Singapore Memories: Chinese TV Drama – The Unbeatables

As we celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday this year, I can’t help but look back at how much our society has transformed and progressed over the years. I grew up in the 80s, a time when smart phones and Internet were non-existent. Though life was simple, the pace was also less stressful. In fact, my generation’s main sources of after-dinner family entertainments were television and radio only. To capture the memories of this past generation, I decided to blog about this beautiful chapter of my life in a series of articles starting with this one.

Widely seen as the trail-blazer TV drama serial in Singapore’s Channel 8, The Unbeatables was the first show that featured gambling as the core theme and took the Singapore’s audience by storm more than twenty years ago. Even though the show was produced in 1993, an era without the distractions from cable TV and Internet, most Singaporeans would agreed that it was one of the greatest shows that SBC (the predecessor of Mediacorp) has ever produced, even until today. In my view, I would say that The Unbeatables, was truly unbeatable, and had set the gold standard for the media industry. For more than two decades, no other shows had come close to matching The Unbeatables’ quality, class and enthralling twists. Even its two sequels failed to match the high standard set by the 1993’s version, so you can imagine the incredible level of enduring success this show has achieved.

The Unbeatables aimed to entertain, not to educate, the audience on the vices of gambling. The story was set in a fictional island called Coral Isle and the plot centered on the intense rivalry between the gambling families – the Longs and the Yans. The main storyline was a bit cliche – male protagonist fell in love with the father’s arch enemy daughter. Notwithstanding this, the show’s recipe of high tempo, good acting and exciting twists made it a top show with rave reviews from the audience.

From the strong cast, it is evident that SBC had every intention to make this show a success. Li Nanxing, who was already a rising star back then, was Yan Fei, the male protagonist who fell in love with Long Jiajia, played by Zoe Tay, the reigning Queen of Caldecott Hill. The other leading roles included the devilishly charming Zhu Houren who starred as the evil King of Deception, Long Tingguang and Chen Shucheng, who starred as, Yan Kun, the King of Gamblers.

There were several classic scenes that I remember clearly, including the first episode in which Yan Kun challenged the Eight Great Swindlers and the scene in which Yan Kun trained his son’s gambling skill with the Chinese classic, Romance of the Three Kingdom.

The show also featured great theme songs by Chinese pop singer, Zhao Chuan. The songs, combined with the novel theme at that time, firmly entrenched The Unbeatables as one of the most memorable Chinese TV dramas in Singapore’s history. It has also propelled Li Nanxing and Zoe Tay to King and Queen of Caldecott Hill until today.

Do you have any favorite shows from the 80s to 90s?

Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder

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