SINGAPORE-The Journey: A Voyage is a reboot of The Awakening on a grand scale, opening with a National Day parade at Marina Bay and digitally wiping out the riverside skyline to bring back colonial Singapore.
Vast vistas of pastoral China and rugged Malaysia follow as early immigrants take a rambling trip from their hometown Yongding to tin-mining town Ipoh via Singapore.
One of the men, Shi (Desmond Tan), is travelling with his wife, Yazi (Jeanette Aw), and the two are innocents like Ashui and Amei (Huang Wenyong and Xiang Yun) in the 1984 landmark drama The Awakening.
They are good people to whom bad things happen but they don't have the first flush of freshness which made Ashui and Amei such affecting and enduring characters.
It takes another man to jolt The Journey to life: Li Nanxing, who brings the outsize emotion the show needs in the larger-than-life role of Tianpeng, an audacious peddler in Yongding who is reputed to have survived a tiger attack.
For the prize of a ship fare to Singapore, he pulls off a one-man mission to rescue a landlord's daughter, Mingzhu (Chris Tong), from a gang of bandits.
But he falls for her and tries, but fails, to save her from marrying her fiance, Guangda, a degenerate tin businessman (Terence Cao) who has a wife back in Penang.
Afterwards, the trio find themselves on the same ship to Singapore as a dangerous love triangle takes shape: The usually glib Guangda stops joking and starts beating his bride when he suspects her of sneaking around with her saviour.