Looking Back in Anger

Looking Back in Anger (Chinese: 義不容情; lit. 'righteousness doesn’t permit feelings') was a 1989 Hong Kong TV series and one of the most watched TVB series by Chinese people in Hong Kong, Southeast Asia and around the world. Many factors contributed to the success of this series. As well as its tragic but memorable storyline, this series featured a strong cast, with Felix Wong, Deric Wan (who rose to fame with his role as the main antagonist), Carina Lau, Kathy Chow Hoi-Mei and Maggie Shiu.[1] The popular theme song of the series "Yat sang ho kau" (一生何求) was sung by Danny Chan and later by Deric Wan himself.

Looking Back In Anger
Looking Back In Anger promo poster
Also known asNghĩa Bất Dung Tình
Created byWai Ka-Fai
Directed byLee Kwok Lap
Yuen Ying Ming
StarringFelix Wong
Deric Wan
Carina Lau
Kathy Chow
Maggie Shiu
Elliot Ngok
Kwai Hoi-san
Henry Lee
Carrie Ho
Spencer Leung
Yammie Nam
Gregory Lee
Soh Hang-suen
Theme music composerDanny Chan
Dave Wong Kit
Opening themeYat sang ho kau (一生何求)
Bits of Sadness, Bits of Craze (幾分傷心幾分痴)
Country of originHong Kong
Original languageCantonese
No. of episodes50
Production locationsHong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, China
Running time42 minutes (each)
Original networkTVB Jade
Picture format576i (SDTV)
Audio formatMono
First shown in1989
Original release3 April (1989-04-03) –
9 June 1989 (1989-06-09)



The series starts off with business tycoon, Alex Ting Yau Kin (Felix Wong), waiting for a telephone call. It then moves into a flashback to Kin's childhood years.


The young Kin (played by Gregory Lee) was born into a poor and struggling family. Kin's parents are always fighting over money because his father, Ting Wing Cheung (also played by Felix Wong) is addicted to gambling and has used up the family's savings, much to the displeasure of his wife, Mui Fan Fong (Yammie Nam). However, despite Ting Wing Cheung's weak personality and lack of self-control, he is still a caring and loving father.

Desperate for money to spend for the new year, Fong, an ex-thief, pick-pockets a high-ranking official who is murdered shortly after the theft by another hand. Fond is framed for the murder, and is forced through a humiliating trial, helped by the elderly lawyer Martin Chu Siu-shan (Cheng Gwan Min) who defends her against the ruthless prosecutor, Fung Sai Bong (Ngok Wah).

Fong nearly wins her freedom but there are complications with a false witness statement. Even when that is revoked, Martin becomes the sole witness to the true murderer's deathbed confession and he has to recuse himself. His colleague ends up losing the appeal, and Fong is sentenced to hang once her son, Ding Yau Hong is born. Before Fong dies, she makes Kin promise to always protect Hong.

Upon his wife's death, Cheung goes mad and tries to jump off a building with his children, and luckily is stopped by his childless ex-boss, Lee Ho Cheun (Wu Fung), who takes in the two children after Cheung is admitted to a mental asylum. His wife, Yip Sau Wan (So Hung Shuen) is ecstatic even though she already has two other adopted children, Chow Zhi Mun and Chan Siu Ling.

Cheun dies suddenly from a brain haemorrhage following a stroke, and the family is bankrupted. Gossips tell Wan that it is all because of Hong, who is a jinx. Wan is shocked, but refuses to abandon Hong.

Taking her four children, Wan travels to Macau to seek help from her brother-in-law (Kong Ngai), who insults her and tells her to become a prostitute. She leaves angrily and works very hard menial jobs to support all four kids.


In 1982[1], Wan is working as a cleaner in a hospital with Nurse Lan, whose daughter is Chiu Kar Mun (Maggie Shiu).

The four children she had taken in are all grown up. Kin (Felix Wong) works multiple jobs over the years from a young age to help Wan support the family. Hong (Deric Wan) has just finished high school and is seeking a place at the law faculty of the University of Hong Kong. Chan Siu Ling (Carrie Ho) works as a bank teller, and Zhou Zhi Mun (Spencer Leung) is still in Form Six of high school.

After the years of hardship, Wan has grown cold, distant and very moody, leading to communication barriers with the children. Luckily, Kin is there as the glue to stick the family together.

Wan's brother-in-law has now fallen into hard times, and begs lowly for Wan to take in his daughter, Lee Wah (Kathy Chow). Wan forgives him and takes the nerdy, timid Wah in. Wah quickly gains a place in everyone's hearts.

Not content to live in cheap accommodations forever, Hong wants to apply for a law degree. Wan opposes this plan, believing that Hong should stick to his class and find a job like Kin. But Hong wants to prove his self-worth, and Kin supports him all the way, and he is accepted at the university. Hong may be ambitious, but he sees Wan's hardship and sacrifice, as well as her dislike of him, so he wants to prove to her that he will not be a liability and gain her praise. Kin works in the university cafeteria.

Once in university, Hong is immediately singled out as an outsider by his rich classmates (Frankie Lam and Evergreen Mak), as well as the snobbish Sam Fung (Ng Kai Ming), who Hong sucks up to in order to fit in.

Hong finds out that Sam's father is the prosecutor turned immensely wealthy businessman Fung Sai Bong, who is chairman of Kai Mei Holdings. Bong is also on the board of Ngai Holdings, along with his eldest son Michael. Casting old grudges and nervousness aside, Hong tries to get close to him to gain job opportunities. Bong takes an instant liking to the diligent Hong, when Hong mentioned he got into Hong Kong University from an unknown/public high school. Kin works at the school cafeteria and is sent to deliver milk tea one day when he comes across a law lecture given by Fung Sai Bong, who boasts about his last trial before retirement. This angers Kin, who throws the milk teas at Fung Sai Bong. Hong won't let go of this opportunity to work in Bong's company and quarrels with Kin. Hong tries to suck up to Michael and tries apologizing for his brother's behavior the previous day, but when Michael says an apology is not enough and wants Kin fired from the school cafeteria. In order to gain Michael's trust, Hong agrees and Kin is fired from his cafeteria job on his birthday.

Hong apologizes to Fung Sai Bong, who then asks Hong how he thought of the case, to which Hong replies "I think the law is always right." Fung Sai Bong is content with Hong's answer and tells Hong to keep up the good work in law school. The television show that Kin was casd in is broadcast at dinner time which shows a vulnerable and drunk Kin crying and talking about his loss of jobs and all the hardships he has faced as a 25 year old. Angered, Hong yells at Kin and calls him stupid for allowing the station to broadcast to the world their family hardships, because he does not want his wealthy friends to know. Kin and Hong gets into an argument and Hong says that Kin is stupid to the point that he even believes "she" was innocent, meaning their mother who was framed for murder. Kin and Hong gets into a fight and Hong moves out of the apartment into the university hostel.

Once exposed to the upper class, Hong becomes more and more obsessed with money and status, and manipulates Wah, who has a crush on him, to do all his projects while he is out socializing with the upper class. Hong later quarrels with Kin over Wah while the latter is driving, resulting in an accident in which Hong suffers permanent leg damage. He then sets his sights on pretty, intelligent medical student, Chiu Kar Mun (Maggie Shiu), who already has a doctor boyfriend, Lau Wai Gong, when she saves his life at the accident site. By using his jealous tendencies, Hong makes Dr. Lau go mad and claims Kar Mun as his own.

He finally fails his course once Wah realizes that he is a jerk and stops helping him, and he drops out, seeing a brighter future working under Bong. Kin and Hong quarrel over this issue.

Kin has always had a crush on Wah, but she only had eyes for Hong. Kin is approached by his best friend who works in a TV station, to appear on a TV show where the lives of three people with the same birthdates are compared. The other two are the mighty and wealthy heiress Ngai Chor Gwan (Carina Lau), and an arrogant fashion designer, Yeung Pak Kai (Gilbert Lam).

Mr. Yeung is an orphan. Similar to Kin, his parents died at an early age. He worked hard, juggling his studies and work and was soon recognized as Asia's top fashion designer.

Gwan is the elder daughter of tycoon and Ngai Holdings chairman Ngai Kwan (Kwan Hoi San), who is Bong's business rival and elder cousin-in-law. Her mother died when Gwan was only six. Gwan has a younger half-brother, general manager Francis Ngai Chun Kit (Canti Lau) who is highly intelligent, responsible, mature and has a flair for business. Tired of being constantly over-shadowed, Gwan does not even try to gain her father's approval. She becomes increasingly lazy and distant from her family, which causes her father to criticize her even more. She thinks Kwan doesn't love her at all, but in fact he does. She also keeps a close relationship with Kit, who helps her out a lot.

Gwan and Kin gradually become friends despite their large social differences, and she secretly falls for Kin. However, Kin ends up with Wah, when she finally realizes the love he has for her. Kin supports Wah through her advertising course, and Gwan remains a friend to both, hiding her feelings inside.

Depressed after Hong and Wah start going out, Gwan considers dating a rich man (Gallen Lo) and even agrees to his proposal, but chickens out at the last minute. Kwan is angered, and Gwan moves out and realizes that her past idol life was too boring. She starts becoming independent with the help of Kin. She finds a job as a magazine journalist, and is happy her with her boss(Michael Tao) who likes her.

Hong works for Sai Bong's eldest son, general manager Michael (Lee Shing-cheong). Bong attempts a hostile takeover of Ngai Holdings with Michael's underhanded help, but Kit gains evidence of Michael's illegal dealings and attempts to stop the takeover. An explosive confrontation leads to Michael running Kit over in Hong's car, with Hong at the steering wheel. Michael refuses to take responsibility for the murder; Hong manipulates Kin into taking the rap for him, using Kin's love for him as well as his promise to his dying mother to always protect Hong. Hong genuinely feels sorry, and tries to make up for it by giving more money to Wan, who throws it in his face and kicks him out. Once Kin finds out it was Kit who was killed in the car accident, he falls out with Gwan, who fails to persuade him to let Hong take responsibility for his own actions.

Kin is sentenced to jail for two years, and in jail he forms a close friendship with several men, each of whom has his own story to tell. Kwun (Gwan's father), who has also been arrested for corruption charges, eventually meets Kin in jail, and his dislike for Kin gradually lessens and he learns to appreciate him. Even after reconciling with her father, Gwan still refuses to return to the family company, so her stepmother takes over.

Ling tries out for TVB acting classes, and gets promoted. Wan is very against this, but relents when she sees Ling's sincerity and interest. She is also persuaded by Kin's best friend, Fook, who loves Ling. She explains her concerns as stemming from the fact that Ling's biological mother was a famous actress and singer, who became someone's mistress and abandoned her child to marry rich in Thailand. Wan is worried that the pressures in the entertainment field will soon push Ling into following her mother's path.

All is well until Ling's biological mother, Fong Hung (Chan Lai See) returns to Hong Kong. Ling is disappointed to find her a manipulative and materialistic person, but soon understands the pressures that her teenage mother had to endure and forgives her. But it turns out that Hung is a heavy gambler, and owes loan sharks a lot of money. Under Hong's guidance, Ling becomes Michael's mistress to pay off her mother's continuing debts, ending her sweet-budding romance with Fook. Wan is enraged and disowns her.

Meanwhile, the youngest brother, Mun, finds his biological parents, who have become rich over the years, but his newfound siblings look down on him. To prove himself, he becomes Michael's personal assistant, a high-paying but humiliating job. Wan disowns him too.

Kin returns to a relieved Wan and happy Wah, who is finishing off her course. He is still working multiple jobs to make ends meet, and runs back into Gwan. They become friends again. Gwan still has a crush on Kin. Kin meets up with his friends from prison and start up a food stall which becomes very successful. Wah becomes jealous of Gwan's closeness with Kin.

Over time, Hong has lost his interest in Kar Mun and seeks to woo Bong's daughter Cindy for the ulterior motive of climbing the corporate ladder. They visit Nurse Lan in Malaysia. Kar Mun uses her uncle, a Malaysian general (Chu Tit Wo), to pressure Hong into marriage. Desperate, Hong plans the perfect murder, and pushes Kar Mun off a moving train, framing it as a suicide over her guilt for a fictional affair. Unknown to him, Kar Mun attempted suicide some days earlier and left a suicide note in her second clothes.

Hong happily returns to propose to Cindy, and the two scale the corporate ladder, overtaking Michael's position in the company. This causes Michael to become increasingly abusive towards Ling and Mun.

Kin and Wah grow apart as her career grows more successful. Afraid that she might change, Wah proposes to Kin, but on the eve of the wedding, Kin discovers a letter by Wah to her friend saying that she only wants to marry Kin to repay him for his help, and also highlights other concerns for their future. Kin wants Wah to be happy, so he cancels the wedding. Wah goes off to Malaysia to work.

Ling gets pregnant and is dumped by Michael. She tries to commit suicide, but Gwan persuades her to live on. Supported by both mothers, she quits acting and opens a shop. Fook, who still loves Ling proposes to her repeatedly, and even wants to take her son as his own, but out of guilt and shame, she refuses. Mun meets a girlfriend (Carol Yeung). Building up his self-confidence and dignity, he quits his job and helps Kin out.

Kin and Gwan get drunk and sleep together, causing both of them to feel awkward afterwards. Gwan's boss tells Kin that Gwan has been in love with him for a long time. Moved, Kin chases after Gwan, who rejects him, feeling that he is only pursuing her out of obligation after sleeping with her. But eventually, he convinces her that his feelings are sincere, and they get together.

Kin and his friends move onto opening a restaurant, but his chefs bail out on him, so they have to resort to using Chinese steam-bowl to save the business which strangely, attracts a lot of customers. Gwan supports him all the way, and Kwun gradually accepts Kin. Kin and his friends become rich.

Cindy proves to be a good wife, as she successfully patches up the relationship between Hong and the rest of his family. Hong is moved by her actions, and his siblings all like her, but they still continue to hate her father and brother.

Wan visits the ailing Nurse Lan in Malaysia, and finds Kar Mun's genuine suicide note; the note reveals Hong's infidelity and his plan to marry Cindy. Hong attempts to claim the note back, but when Wan cannot produce it Hong strangles her to death in a fit of rage.

Kin gets a call from Nurse Lan and hears that Wan had left Malaysia that day, but realizes that she had yet to return. He rushes off to Malaysia with Wah to find Wan. Based on eyewitness accounts, the discovery of the suicide note and the discovery of Wan's body, Kin concludes that Hong killed Wan. Kin attempts to have Hong extradited for the two murders, but he is not charged due to a technicality; however, Hong will be executed if he sets foot in Malaysia.

Mun confronts Hong in his office. In a fit of anger, he stabs Hong with a letter opener and holds him hostage. He is arrested and thrown into prison hospital, having sustained an injury.

Cindy is horrified and upon close observation, she sees Hong's true colours. Cindy requests a divorce from Hong, which is supported by her father, even though she finds herself pregnant. Hong desperately tries to get Cindy back, but she remains determined and strong-willed. Hong loses his position in Kai Mei, and his failed attempt to start his own business is compounded by major stock market losses. During this time, Hong continually extorts money from Cindy to feed his vices.

Cindy is very depressed and resorts to drinking. Hong uses her alcoholism to threaten to challenge her for custody of their son and blackmails her for millions of dollars. Just when Cindy aims to quit drinking, she dies from a heart attack, a congenital condition. As they are not properly divorced yet, Hong inherits all her money.

Wah eventually returns to Macau to pick up her parents, and meanwhile, tries to get Kin back. She sees Gwan as a third wheel and Kin as hers, but Kin asserts that he only loves Gwan. Wah leaves for Malaysia with her parents and Kin for the Middle East, but the plane crashes and she is the sole survivor, paralyzed from the waist down.

Wah uses her disability to cling to Kin. Kin feels guilty and tries to satisfy all her demands, giving Wah new hope that they can be together. Wah becomes increasingly possessive of Kin and hostile towards Gwan, who just wants to help. Kin does nothing to reassure her, and Gwan finally calls him on it, throwing their wedding invitations in his face.

Hong, still in financial trouble, kidnaps his own son (under Bong's custody) for ransom, but his accomplice is arrested and the ransom money is marked with a dye pack. Desperate to escape Hong Kong but without the money for the fare, he robs Kin, Wah and Ling at knifepoint but is caught after fighting with Kin and sent to prison hospital.

Kin finally confronts Wah about his feelings. He confidently says that he only loves Gwan, and will only marry her. Wah gives him her blessing, and attends the wedding. But that night, she gets depressed and slits her wrists, bleeding to death.

Kin helps out Kwan in the company. After letting go of his hatred, he even helped out Bong, causing reconciliation between the Ngai, Ting and Fung families. Kwan is very happy.


Years later, Kwan dies, and leaves his fortune and possessions to Kin and Gwan. The couple have a son, and a happy marriage.

Kin spots the destitute Hong on the streets. He discovers that Hong has been secretly visiting his own son, and pities him. He gives him a lowly job at one of his restaurants, and otherwise ignores him, as Gwan still hates him for killing Kit.

Hong is enraged that Kin enjoys a happy life. Plotting revenge, he poisons Kin's family while he is out for dinner at the restaurant where he works, framing it on a mentally unstable colleague. His plan is to murder them all, so that the family fortune would pass to the next blood relative, which would be him.

Kin and Gwan both survive, but their young son and six others don't make it. Kin finds electronic bugs in his study and phone and after talking to his lawyer, deduces that it was Hong behind the poisoning. He is deeply conflicted.

Kin offers Hong an executive position, much to the dislike of his partners, and they slowly plot against him, not knowing that this is all a ploy to trap Hong into thinking that he has Kin's absolute trust. Gwan is enraged because she doesn't know what is going on, but finds solace in volunteering for the local church. Meanwhile, Hong bonds with his son and plans to challenge Bong for custody. He is happy when the kid calls him "Father."

Kin sets a ploy to trap Hong into thinking all is well again. But Gwan and his partners, who don't know what's really going on, are enraged. Once Hong believes he has Kin's absolute trust, Kin sets him up to be arrested in Malaysia. Hong is sentenced to death for the murders of Wan and Kar Mun.

Hong repents in prison and begs Kin to bring his son to see him one last time before his execution. Michael has been diagnosed with terminal oesophageal cancer, and is suffering greatly. Kin has a conversation with a broken Bong about karma, and Bong lets Kin take Hong's son to see Hong after much persuasion.

Hong cries desperately upon seeing his son, who doesn't understand what is going on. Hong begs Kin to save him, but Kin tells him that it is time he stopped protecting him, and let him walk alone. Hong is disappointed but does not seem to have much hatred left. He is led to the gallows - just like his mother.

Gwan separates from Kin upon finding out that he did not consult her on such a serious matter. She wants a divorce, but Kin doesn't. She leaves for Ethiopia to do volunteer work. Kin says he will wait for her at the church where they got married, ten years later, on their shared birthday.

Fook approaches Kin again to do a ten-year reunion of the old show. Mr. Yeung has been bankrupted since but is a much more sensitive and caring person now, and Kin cries on air, begging Gwan to return.

The story comes out of the flashback, returning to the first scene where Kin is sitting by the telephone. Gwun calls him and tells him that she is coming home. But that day, both he and Mr. Yeung are involved in a crash. Ethiopia also has a serious earthquake and related landslides, killing hundreds. They have lost contact with Gwan. Mr. Yeung dies, but Kin survives. He still clings to the hope that Gwan is alive and will return to him.

Ten years later, there is still no news of Gwan. But Kin still has high hopes and is ecstatic when the tenth shared birthday comes. He gets ready to go down to the church. Man and wife are married, and after so many years of waiting, Fook finally gets a nod to his marriage proposal from Ling, with the help of her son who sees him as a father.

Kin happily waits in the church, getting more anxious as the clock ticks closer to midnight and his hope slowly dies. He waits past midnight, and eventually falls asleep on a pew.

A lady in red appears at the door. She approaches the sleeping Kin, touching his face lovingly. Her tears drop onto his face, and she leaves. Kin wakes up and finds a note saying Gwan has died. But he refuses to believe it and calls out for her to come back.


Many people believe it was Kin's sister who came to drop off a note so he will move on with his life.

Some sources say it is Gwan's ghost who came to visit him, assuming she had died from the landslides. The fact that she touched his face lovingly could imply she has forgiven him.

Some sources also state that it was possible Gwan survived, but she was upset after the demise of Fei, and wanted to start life afresh.

25 years after the series finale aired, lead actor Felix Wong who played Kin finally reveals that producer Wai Ka Fai himself stated it was really Kin's sister who came to drop off the note as Gwan had already died in Ethiopia. But they used Carina Lau who played Gwan for the ending scene because she has 'prettier legs' and the scene will not be showing the face of the actress. This also ended up making the ending scene more surreal.


Principal filming occurred in Hong Kong with some scenes set in Macau. Extensive filming also took place in Malaysia; notable locations filmed include Kuala Lumpur railway station, Chin Swee Caves Temple, Genting Highlands, and Christ Church Malacca.


1.^ A passing reference to the murder of Vincent Chin is made as having occurred months ago in the US.

External linksEdit


  1. ^ "30-year-old Classic "Looking Back in Anger" Reruns Start November". JayneStars.com. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  2. ^ hermes (2018-11-09). "Yammie Lam's sister may want simple funeral". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2020-04-04.