The Grand Canal

Phew! Finally finished this series…and possibly glad that I could finish it throughout so I wouldn’t be hanging or missed any details of it.

Excellent acting from these actors and actresses that reminded me that TVB once had really good actors and actresses:

  • Tony Leung: Even if Tony’s character went downhill later on since he was mostly dominated by his emotions rather than his mind, but his acting still carried on with portraying the emotional state his character was going through that made it convincing.
  • Felix Wong: Felix was just plain evil in here. It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that his most successful villain role was this one. Because I saw some of the other ones that he portrayed the bad guy but it was just wrong and I wasn’t convinced. For this one, he managed to make me hate him and believed that his character was beyond reasoning and was just some greed driven maniac.
  • Margie Tsang: Her character was really annoying at times because she was really loud. But to look at it on another point of view, she was just very naive and wasn’t as mature as the others. To put it simply, she was just living in the wrong time period since she didn’t understand the intense situations sometimes. However, she had a good heart overall and cared for her friends and was very loyal to them. I actually liked it that she was quite stubborn because she wasn’t wishy-washy like the majority of the characters in here. She knew what she liked or didn’t like. She was also understanding toward others since although there might be misunderstandings between parties, but after she found out the truth or others told her about it, she would forgive and forget it (also another good side of her). It was really good to know that she didn’t die in here or listened to Felix’s character near the end of the story. Maybe it was because of her strong friendship with Derek’s character that made it possible but it was really great to know she didn’t listen to his nonsense thus causing more trouble. It was safe to say that she had this strong sense of righteousness within her that made her character more admirable in a sense.
  • Derek Kwok: Yes, TVB viewers often refer to him as the MOST underrated guy in TVB history. The fact that he only delivered his best made it even more frustrating since TVB is practically blind to keep casting him in supporting roles or just some role. But I’m glad that he always gave it his best–whether people think it was the best role or not. As I said before, I really loved his character (and knew that he won’t last till the end of the series) and really liked his friendship with Margie’s character in here. It was just a pure kiddy relationship since they both loved to roam around town and explore or do any random activities together. His loyalty to his second brother was apparent also. A great character overall.
  • Sean Lau: I think this was my second favorite role of him. At first, I thought he was not right for this role. However, he was really great as the future king. He really brought out the smart side of the character and managed to convince me of his emotional state at various points–such as being stuck in between his family and his friendship to Tony. And also various scenes with Margie. (Subtle but still touching.)
  • Jimmy Au: I don’t know if it was his acting or the roles chosen because he usually did WAY better in supporting roles vs. the ones where he starred in. Maybe the characters were better written? Although they managed to rob his character of various talents in here, he still showed great loyalty with various people in here. I really liked scenes of him and his wife also. (Not that I don’t like Rebecca, just think that he matched with Red Dust Lady more.)
  • Wong Yee Kum (Red Dust Lady): She was really great in various scenes with being calm as well as rash at times. She was very intelligent, outshining Idy’s character in many ways. She didn’t judge anyone (like in the case of Idy, etc). Yes, she was stubborn at times too and couldn’t control herself, but it was in her personality. Her loyalty and bravery were very admirable. (Thanks to llwy12 for helping with her name.)
  • Liu Kai Chi: Yes, he was Mr. Naive all right. Can’t blame him because of his brother’s great acting and always speaking up for him when he was in trouble. I really liked his performance in here as the nice and suave prince although he was badly taken advantage of by practically everyone in here. Such a tragic ending for him and he was probably the only one in his whole family that I actually felt sorry for since he didn’t deserve the fate at all. He was not the cunning nor deceiving type so he wasn’t able to figure some things out on his own versus his sister who had the time, intelligent, and the access to it (but failed to discover it sooner).
  • Lawrence Ng: The only reason why I even put his name in was because I think this was one of the rare series that I actually liked his acting or think he was up to it–although he was portraying a villain. He made me hate him so bad that I couldn’t even blame others for being dumb (except for Idy’s character, lol). He put the show up so well with being the filial son and then the drastic change in his character later after he acquired what he wanted all along.
  • Cheng Yim Foong (the girl who portrayed Sheung Yee). Her character ended in tragic and it was very annoying with too much of the pity thing playing into the story but I think that this actress was really great in portraying her role. It got really complex later on but she managed to pull it off very well. (Thanks to llwy12 for helping with her name.)
  • Bau Fong and Lee Heung Kam. Love these veteran actor/ actresses. They were only in the first part of the series but managed to convince me with their characters (even if they weren’t the wisest people).

Other good points about this series:

  • The friendship between Tony and Sean. It was known and proven many times that they were a great team at times thus leading to jealousy from various parties and causing more conflicts between both sides.
  • The brother/sister relationship between Tony, Jimmy, and Wong Yee Kum. There were misunderstandings at times but they managed to resolve it and stay true as friends till the very end. I loved it that they had different views at times but still managed to stay true to one another, not giving in to power or some other forces.
  • Sean and Margie as a couple. To elaborate a little more on this, I didn’t like the idea of them being a couple at first either but it really grew on me. (And I was waiting for sparks to fly between Tony and Idy instead.) This was actually my other favorite pairing–if it was even relevant to discuss in such an intense series like this. He was probably what people call book smart while she was the street smart kind. They complemented each other really well. She might not be helpful to him at various times, but could help him relax a bit with taking him out to various places to relieve some stress or talk nonsense so he could laugh. (LOL)
  • Derek and Margie as friends. I really thought he liked her romantically at first since he loved to hang out with her, etc. But it was just this pure and innocent friendship between them. He liked to roam around and play some senseless games once in a while so she made the perfect candidate as his close friend because of their similar interests. They were really funny when together as said many times already. They had this strong bond of friendship which others couldn’t understand (because most of them were so serious) thus leading to Margie having a very strong reaction toward his death. (Glad like I said before so she wouldn’t back down to believing Felix’s character.)
  • The costumes and hairstyles. If you watched the majority of the ’80s series, you would know that they reused some of the costumes, but it was all right. Still nice to look at for the main cast and great hairstyles. I especially loved those they did for Rebecca’s character at the beginning of the story. It looked really sophisticated and nice–unlike those weird, bulky hairstyles they did for ancient series nowadays.

The bads:

  • Idy Chan’s acting. I’m sorry to pick on her yet again but I couldn’t even see her shine in here even IF it was the highest peak of the series or the lowest point. Her character was tolerable near the end but her acting ceased to impress. The majority of the script was to be blamed but her acting didn’t amount to much either.
  • The dragged out of the plot and/or lack of development of both characters and plot. This was said over and over again but I thought I should include it one more time to get the point across. They had a lot of great characters to work with, yet they kept shuffling back and forth with only certain characters at times and dragged it out too much. They should’ve developed more of Chun Wong’s sidekick’s character in here. He was a great character from the book–or so I was told. Why did they make him fall so behind in the story? It just defeated the purpose of putting him in the series in the first place. That went for the other characters as well. Tony’s character was a very intelligent person yet his indecisiveness caused more harm than help people in general. It got really annoying and was quite repetitive. Same for Idy’s character because she was supposed to be smart (like how the scriptwriters led us on to believe), but it took too long to solve problems, etc. They managed to give characters good background information and show off their skills at the beginning but failed to develop it later on. The beginning of the story was developed quite well with the plot also but it just dragged on so much in the middle that only the last 10 episodes were worth watching.
  • The fact that the majority of the female cast in here was annoying. I only managed to endure Margie’s character in here because it was Margie and she made it so charming with her character without being as annoying. However, Wong Yee Kum was the most intelligent as far as I see and the most understanding also. Although she did have her moments (like mentioned before) but it was understandable and relevant–unlike some other characters in here. The second to her character that wasn’t as annoying was probably Rebecca Chan’s. Although she was a third-party at one point of the story, I pitied her more than hated her. I couldn’t help but come back to thinking that the scriptwriters must have hated women a lot or was trying hard to make Idy’s character shine that they wanted to sink the rest of the female characters in here. (Because honestly, making the female population super whiny and annoying wasn’t the way to “charm” in case the definition of “charm” had changed. It had to be on purpose or someone was really dumb.)

So on the last few notes, I would like to say that this series actually reminded me of The Yang’s Sagas because of the political elements and the conflicts in between. However, The Yang’s Sagas was WAY better because of its length and well thought out storyline. (It was also sad but wasn’t draggy or annoying.) I wouldn’t recommend this series even if you really love any of the cast, but watch it at your own risk since it was really long. But if you skipped just one episode, you missed some major detail stuck in between. To say it simply, each detail was essential to the overall plot and would help you understand the plot better but it wasn’t necessarily well written.

Posted (on Xanga): January 28, 2009

Posted: April 27th, 2010

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One Step Beyond

It was one interesting, unpredictable series. It was actually one of those series that is hard to come upon these days. It was unpredictable in that it was crazy yet did not follow the typical pattern of TVB series nowadays. The acting was just so awesome also that you can’t really hate any one character for so long. Although it was 20 episodes, it felt so fast with a lot of things going on that you could not feel the drag of it at all since it never stopped long enough for you to think. This was one great Deric, Fiona, and Dicky collaboration. Both guys are great singers and having them in the same drama was sort of a plan to promote them at that time. However, their acting was really good also–not just singing. I especially love Deric’s song for the series. It was really touching and nice.

Anita Lee showed a surprising performance near the end of the drama since I thought she was just portraying another typical role–in those TVB days. However, she convinced me of her acting at that point, not just recently. Rain Lau did a good job also and it was a bit funny seeing that she was portraying Dicky’s sister in here since they were paired off in The Mystery of the Twin Swords II.

It was a bit funny to see lots of the typical TVB faces in those days still taking on minor roles or guest starring to contribute to the drama, such as Lui Fong, Alex To, Carol Yeung, and Andy Hui. Derek Kwok was still being robbed in those days but at least there was the definite good acting fiber in him right from the start–even if he was just playing the typical baddie as it was in those days.

Recommended for those who want to watch crazy slash humorous ghost plots. There were ups and downs of the series but it was not for long.

Posted (on Xanga): October 23, 2009

Re-posted: Sunday, April 4th, 2010

D.I.E. Again

This was a major disappointment because of its inability to live up to part one. I would’ve expected it to surpass the first part even but I guess it could not. It had lost its essence to the humor and the cleverness of the cases. Though some parts or reasons could be typical because some murders could happen because of misunderstandings or other stuff in life, it was too much of a joke to have most of the cases too simple. It reduced their team down to brainless characters. It was too silly for its own good since part I was serious for the majority of the time, but it was just some characters behaving the way they usually did and felt like it was not weird. That was how their characters were and why we ended up loving them as the audience, witnessing their humorous moments–even during the most tragic cases. Sonija’s character became so goofy that made it a big joke. Though I really loved the chemistry between Roger and Sonija, making her too goofy at times killed it. She was supposed to be the serious one. (Yes, she did learn to relax with Roger around but not to the extent that she was jumping around when she found out she was back at D.I.E. A bit too overboard.)

The additional cast was not that bad since they were juniors and did not expect to strive 100% since they still needed to learn from their seniors. However, making Zac Kao somewhat like Kenneth’s character in the past was a bit too lame. The joke with the whole “Jackson” matter was over-killed. They did that for the humor in part I yet it was so subtle that if you weren’t paying attention, it was okay. But this time, they threw it in too many times that it was annoying. Him Law and Macy Chan were enjoyable at times since they were funny yet enough with it. Icy was a good addition too since she was an interesting character–totally different on and off work. I enjoyed her moments when she had to tolerate Roger’s smart mouth running. My only complaint was in adding the new characters, they had sacrificed Stephen and Mimi’s screen time again. (I meant together, not individually.)

Was I the only one feeling Derek was robbed again? The three Kwoks were supposed to lead the drama but somehow, I felt he just got knocked down again with the side stories. Yes, he was still the righteous guy who worshiped Bruce Lee, but somehow his character had lost its essence due to side stories. When I learned that Margie was not going to be in the sequel, I was really disappointed. But later, I learned about Derek pairing up with Nancy, I was getting my hopes up after seeing some photos of different scenes. I liked their chemistry in Face to Fate though it was somewhat tragic. So that was a reason to look forward to. But it seemed too trying in here to just rush Derek’s character off into moving on. Why didn’t they just make him wait for Margie since she would be finished with her studying later? They did not make Nancy’s character strong enough to take over–though they did try to emphasize matters at various points. I felt it was missing something. The whole idea with Derek moving on and trying to get over Margie made their get together in part I a big fat joke since there was no point in getting together because it did emphasize how he valued relationships and how hard it was for them to get together–with various obstacles. Now the whole thing again with a different girl? I wouldn’t mind if it happened again since no one was guaranteed to date one time and meet the one, but the story was just too trying that it became too much. Referring back to the last point, I would’ve preferred that Derek focus on his righteous acts and wait for Margie so they could increase Stephen and Mimi’s screen time together a bit more.

The cases? Things only got a tad more interesting around the last two cases. However, it was a bit repetitive with Derek’s mother’s family. It was like they were running out of things to do or they just wanted to let history repeat itself again yet they were trying to get clever. Although I only watched Saw I but I could feel it was stealing the formula of the Saw movies. That was a bit disappointing. (Though we could say all psychos are nuts that way but having it down to the details with the pattern? Eh….)

Am I watching if there’s part 3? Probably but won’t have much hope. It’s just that the three Kwoks are so addicting to watch!

Posted (on Xanga): October 21, 2009

Re-posted: Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Revolving Doors of Vengeance

I wish I could say that this was one of the better TVB series but with a lame title. Regretfully, this one had both–the title and lame plots. I must admit I was curious after reading some comparisons between this and The Brink of Law and how people say that there were similarities between both. However, I honestly think that The Brink of Law was ten times better–even if they managed to kill off half of the cast. This one was too messed up and gift wrapped toward the end. Although I must admit they wrapped it well with some plots intertwining to catch John Chiang’s character, it was not a satisfactory series with so many loops and stupidity in here. Sounds judgmental to death but I felt like morality was not even clear in here or no one had any, to begin with.

Likes:

  • Felix Lok as Ng Gam Kuen. He was the only one I actually liked in here among the cast that had anything to do with the whole plot. He was loyal to the father (Lau Dan) and was doing his best to help but would always worry to death while others were doing stupid things.
  • Lawrence Ng as Koo Ka Hyun. The kid was so cute and had a lot of potentials. His acting was great.
  • Lo Hoi Pang as Martin’s father. I think his parts were the most fun in the series since he played tricks on people so much. His attempted plot was a bit funny and his bond with his son was really touching too. Some parts with his disciple were fun while others memorable to watch.

Dislikes:

  • The fact that Kit (Ron) and Hoi Sum (Ella) ended up together. I think Hoi Sum loved to torture herself or something since he was the one who did not know what he wanted or both or whatever. But she kept wanting to hurt herself by doing that. Kit was also an idiot and a rash person throughout. Nothing was significant about him from the beginning to the end. He was also so hot-headed and did not listen to anyone. Yes, he eventually learned but it just made their relationship a joke that he was firm or stubborn with a lot of his principles but was not able to resist temptation thus going with Chloe (Elaine). Using Hacken’s song “Never Change In This Lifetime” as Hoi Sum and Kit’s song was a big insult to the song. Honestly, if he was that loyal, he would’ve more self-control.
  • Chloe (Elaine) and Mark (Derek) ended up together. WHAT?! Another dumb pairing and was too gift wrapped. Not saying that he did not deserve happiness but HER? Seriously? There were no other girls in the whole wide world? These people seriously forgave too easily or were just looking for self-torture. She no longer had anyone to rely on, that was why she chose him in the first place. NOT convinced that she was turning good. It was just that she needed someone to lean on since she had no other hope after what happened to her father.
  • Everyone kept jumping back and forth. I swear the Wong family was so wishy-washy. They kept shifting focus and all, especially fighting with their uncle and then coming back to let him use them some more.

Things that I DIDN’T LIKE but could accept:

  • Martin (Joe) and Becky (Kenix) ending up together. If we were keeping score, she lied to him right from the start–to which he just ignored it most of the time because he was interested in her. Okay, so he used some techniques to test her later but that was just to see if she was lying to him or not. So it was okay that she lied and deceived him BUT it was not okay that he tested her? GREAT. But still, it was acceptable to a level because it was all confusing and how she wanted to have enough money for her aunt’s surgery. But still…it was quite a low attempt with using her son to bait Martin.

Who got robbed:

  • Raymond Cho. It was a shame that he only appeared a bit and he was one of those with great potential and it was too bad that he did not rise as much back then. It was until recently that he got more focused but still did not make up for anything. It was because those other ‘supposed’ handsome faces that kept hogging the screen that made him lose out on opportunities. He’s quite good-looking actually and with potential also. Not to mention, he did sing the song better than someone else.
  • Nancy Wu. Seriously, I loved Maria more than the rest of the main cast in here. None of the girls in here could live up to Nancy’s fiber, except for let’s say, Kenix Kwok. Too bad.
  • Tsui Wing. It was funny how I didn’t notice him until I watched Off Pedder but I must say he’d gone a long way. It was a shame he could not rise in the earlier series.
  • Other potential cast. I think most of the bearable cast or the great characters were actually the supporting ones instead of the main cast.

So, overall, who got the most out of this drama? I swear it was Hacken Lee since they used some of his songs for the series. I had a feeling they were boosting him (which was well deserved) but other than that, this series tried to set all the hype around the characters but failed to deliver with an exact goal as an overall. It was a bunch of randomnesses thrown together. I could only feel that the ones who appeared a little were the more decent characters than the main cast combined.

Posted (on Xanga): September 11, 2009

Re-posted: Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Au Revoir Shanghai

The series itself was surprisingly good. It started out a bit slow and I thought it was just those typical Shanghai triads and those gangs going against each other. But its many twists and complicated stories were entertaining enough. It sure showed a different side to the genre. I honestly think that TVB is better at those Shanghai series more than its modern series in recent years. Sure, there has been good scripts and all of the modern series but the ending will always kill it. But in the Shanghai series, so far–I found them all nicely scripted and the ending was well planned–like The Charm Beneath, The Price of Greed, and now this. I’m sure there are many others in recent years, but these three so far met up to quality.

Unexpected one but I somehow restored my faith for Michael Miu after watching this. He managed to carry out his character convincingly enough. I guess it was one of those old group vibes from the ’80s or whatever else that made it happen. There were others also. And his chemistry with Anne Heung was interesting also since I didn’t expect it to work out. Quite a bit tragic and all, but not overdone. I was glad also that he didn’t end up with Anne’s character. Although I love to see them together as a team, I don’t like it if it was too gift-wrapped or it would be beyond cheesy and unrealistic, considering what had happened. At least both parties had come to accept what happened and still maintain a pure friendship.

Anne Heung did pretty well unlike her other bland out roles as a sacrificing party or the kind and nice person. Although this was somewhat like her previous roles as well, she was weak on the outside but very strong on the inside. She really matched wit per wit with Michael’s character. Great performance from her here and the ability to bring out the role so well.

Bosco and Shirley were a cute and funny pair. Nice ending also since it wasn’t too cheesy. Not sure if this was before or after The Price of Greed but they were really funny together in here as well and did give off a different feeling aside from the bro/sis sibling feeling like the other one. Bosco’s acting was decent as always, bringing out enough of the character without making it corny like some actors nowadays. (One of the good choices that TVB decided to promote really, considering their NOT so wise choices.) Really like his voice also as he did the theme song for the series itself. Luckily, they didn’t try to impress Michael by letting him sing, lol. NOT like it’s a bad thing, but might be over-doing it. Shirley sure improved and unlike what some others think, I actually agreed that she got the Most Improved Actress award. She really came a long way since she first started out with confusing expressions and gestures. But she really nailed her character recently, bringing out the emotional state as well as many other complex aspects that her character went through. Looking forward to future roles of her.

Derek Kwok – This was one of the roles that I felt he wasn’t robbed, lol. Great performance like always and very natural. A great role for him also. Can’t say much about his character ’cause I’m just impressed and don’t want to be repetitive.

Jimmy Au – A little disappointed that his character shall die but somewhat reasonable to the plot itself. It’s one of the rare roles that I like him in. Although he starred in a few series in the good old days, he wasn’t that impressive. In this one, it is one of those series I can say that he’s good. He makes his character real and funny at the same time in the beginning and quite tragic near the end.

Eddy Ko – If they cast him in any more villain roles, I’m going to assume his features stay that way, lol. I can’t distinguish if he’s acting or it’s his real expression anymore, lol. But it’s all right. Got to give him props for looking sincere enough at the beginning to deceive people, etc (like how he did to Michael’s character) and his colors showing more and more near the end.

Power Chan – Umm….another role for him although it seems major, it’s like they have nothing else to give him so decides to throw this at him. Nothing impressive but he seems quite uncomfortable or was it his character? Can’t tell. Love his performance in Lethal Weapons of Love & Passion more.

Sonija Kwok – Ummm…having her guest star as Michael’s wife is a bit OUTRAGEOUS. I don’t mind it since probably she met him when she’s quite young and those relationships do happen but it’s so funny that Shirley’s portraying Sonija’s daughter. They’re more like sisters. But luckily that they didn’t have scenes together or I’ll fall off the chair already. But still interesting to see her pair off with Michael at the beginning.

Although I have a bit of doubt about cast at times, but the whole plot was pulled together quite well and captured my attention somehow and got stuck till the end. Great series overall about Shanghai conflicts and those days when the police departments can be quite corrupt. Somehow it reminds me of Catch Me Now–maybe ’cause I watched that before and know that Catch Me Now is after, but still with the whole cop and robbers being friends. Somehow, I really like the friendship between Michael and Derek in here. They both only know of their friends and groups at the beginning and they couldn’t really co-exist, but later learn much more behind it and the gray areas, considering all the corruption going on at that time. Luckily, Derek’s character managed to stay true throughout without giving in to those bribes stuffs and all. The Shanghai background–although not really showing much but different stores and the inside of houses at times, but still entertaining to watch a different side of it.

Posted (on Xanga): September 24, 2008

Re-posted: Saturday, March 6th, 2010