Not a disappointment at all. This series started out as a typical goofy comedy but weaved itself into intensity of family conflicts with business rivalry yet never losing its elements of comedic touch at all. There were many subplots that lead itself into many climax and tied itself back to the major plot. I really enjoyed it and was glad I picked it up in the first place. This was so goofy at the beginning with the main characters and seemed so despicable and intense with some other characters playing mind games, but later it turned into something more meaningful. I really like it that there wasn’t a main focus on anyone in particular but there were many characters in here and they each have their own story. The realistic element of it was there was no main point (like said above) but there were only people who follow their own goal and trying to survive. Their paths leading them to expected accomplishments or for some others–consequences and things might or might not work out in the end.
Several notable performances:
- Nathan Chan as Lo Ping Ping: Contrary to many of his serious roles–Who Is The Winner was among them–he played a very humorous person in here who has a very smart-mouth yet a kind heart deep down. Nathan really brought out Ping Ping’s character very well and also with charm, making us both like and hate him at the same time. (Heard there were some problems with him and ATV in the past, but I guess they reconciled or possibly a misunderstanding so they reached some sort of understanding to collaborate again?)
- Anita Lee as Veronica Xiang Huan Zhu: Anita-although she had played various comedic roles too, but this one must top it all since she took her arrogant as well as girly-girl side to the max, making us laugh and cry with her. She did really great as the vain girl in the beginning who only knew to how to dress up and look pretty, a spoiled rich girl (although she did have a kind heart) to a mature and clever young lady. It was honestly really hard to portray her since there were many scenes that were very, very funny and ridiculous but she pulled it off very well. (And of course I enjoyed the fact that they poked fun of Huan Zhu Ge Ge thing since it made my day with all their comments referring back to that series and this series’ character.)
- Kristal Tin as Crystal Shen Jing Jing: She first appeared as a somewhat irresponsible mother and an easy person, but there was a story behind it all and it really brought out her character as to how she portrayed it. She didn’t seem to care much about anything and seemed to love money more but deep down, she was someone who really valued friendship and family–although she only had her baby. Kristal did great as the strong-willed person who could turn into a weak mother at times. And she did very well with the comedic scenes also. She was probably the best supporting actress in this series that did really well (aside from Wong Oi Yiu) who had made it very worth watching her and how her character unfolded and developed throughout.
- Cheung Kwok Keung as Song Man Ting: A typical cunning and/or scheming character that we often see in those business rivalry movies or series, but his character seemed much more than that. It first showed him as a greedy guy who had only one goal in his mind–to conquer all aka the Xiang’s business thus causing him to go against Lo Wah Long (Lawrence Yan). However, there was this whole thing with his family and how much he cared for them. He had this soft side that said a lot more about his character. Although he seemed harsh and cruel, but he cared a lot for his brother and really knew his benefactors aka the Xiang family (especially the grandfather). He worked really hard for the company and probably the most deserving among those fighting for the CEO position. An excellent performance from Cheung Kwok Keung since he seemed to bring out his character really well with the cunning and deceiving nature with a gist of cleverness as well as his caring side as the oldest brother and also the lonely man fighting for power. The most tragic part must be knowing that he only had so many months to live and working so hard to make it happen, reaching his goal of introducing his family company into the market. There was also the whole thing with trying to get his brother, Ben, to turn his life around. However, the saddest part must be knowing Ben’s betrayal and continuing on until the very last day. His death was really a turnaround in some people’s life also–most importantly Ben and probably Sam also–for taking it so seriously in helping the family business expand.
- Ricky Chan as Ben: I have always liked Ricky Chan after watching Project Ji Xiang and this was probably before that but it really showed that he was up to his part in acting as the rich playboy who only leaned on others and cared for nothing but money-and then turning his life around after his brother’s death. He was a big jerk for the majority of the series but really learned and repent himself after he got out of jail, but it was so convincing and not forced at all–thanks to Ricky’s acting.
- Lawrence Yan Chi Keung as Lo Wah Long: He was probably the most despicable character in this entire series and I must give Lawrence Yan credit for making the character so lively and so hateful at the same time. He seemed like the typical good-looking dude who everyone wanted a piece of but his heart was so dark that it scared people into having second thoughts. He only cared for himself and no one else, even willing to eliminate anyone who stood in his way. It was very frightening and maddening at the same time. Seeing him having such an ending might not be as satisfying but relevant since it made him become helpless–the thing that he hated the most.
What I like about the series:
- The bickering couple Ping Ping & Huan Zhu: Although it seemed like the typical bickering couple falling in love later on but I liked it in the fact that they didn’t force the two into falling in love although there were subtle implications toward the end. It didn’t come up with reasons why they began to like each other later on or pave the way like the typical series. It just happened. It seemed more obvious with Huan Zhu for the turning point of their relationship but less obvious ’cause Ping Ping seemed to like Michelle until the end but the final twist still involved elements of comedy and somewhat the time frame that things happened that made it convincing. It was part of life and what could happen.
- The friendship and possible love between Ping Ping and Crystal: It seemed to play a lot into the elements of letting us believe romance could possibly happen between this two through time spent together and their shared dream and/or goals, plus some implications and pushing from family members. However, their friendship stayed true until the end–through comedic times as well as many hardships.
- James & Crystal’s relationship: It started out just as a one night stand thing that happened one Christmas but through separation and many things that happened, they met again and James finally learned who Crystal really was and developed feelings for her. Their relationship was easy and slow. It seemed unrealistic but at the same time not impossible as they lived like any strange couple but learned many things about each other throughout the time.
- The friendship between many characters in here: There were many characters in here that had been united through family members or circumstances but it seemed very real and true that not all were amazing people according to people who measured them by their achievements but their hard work and shared goals have pushed them together.
- The bond between Ping Ping and his family: They seemed to be a normal family just surviving and thriving on, trying to make a living. But the mother was a really great person and she didn’t discriminate anyone and really understood them. She cared for them and sympathized with them ’cause she had been in such situation before in the past. Ping Ping seemed like a smart-mouth and unmotivated since he only wanted to be a bus driver, but it was only because he was satisfied with who he was and really cared for the people around him. An An was very hard-working and had always wished to reach the top thus creating more opportunities so her family would have a better life. They were a normal family but a very special one also because they knew how to cherish people around them and things they have.
- The Song family’s relationship: Although it seemed scattered throughout the series but their bonding was strange and yet it seemed that they’d struggled a lot to actually finally reunite for real in the end–even if the oldest brother passed away already. A very strong message that Song Man Ting often said throughout the series was: “We’re brothers, we have to look out for each other.” It was a very simple phrase yet so true and he had really lived up to his words until the very end of his life.
- The unforced drive of the story: The plot didn’t seem to be special in any sense but it implied a lot of important elements in it, making the whole story seemed more real than anything.
- The many conflicts & unexplainable behaviors of many characters: There wasn’t a real purpose for everyone’s behaviors and how NOT all things could be explained and reasoned. That was how life was and it was portrayed really well in here.
- The life messages associated with the bus such as “Life is like a bus ride, it is a long one and there aren’t any two stops similar to each other.”
There are many other things that I really like about this series also but don’t want to list it all. It’s a really great series overall and not over-done. Even if ATV doesn’t have the technology or budget like TVB to make it all high class, but the plot itself beats TVB any day. The way it is filmed, it seems more realistic and could be relate to unlike the glamorous gist that doesn’t seem real enough because of the “trying too hard” part TVB often put in.
The most unexpected thing that happened in here was the death of Ah Man. I honestly thought they were keeping him until the end ’cause of how series often wrap up with everyone pairing up nicely. However, it was very tragic and the most heart-wrecking scene of the series to see Ah Man’s death and the suffering afterward. The mother was very unforgivable and they were still being leniet for letting Michelle and her father forgive her in the very end but still it was very frustrating to see such a mother but it was NOT unbelievable at all. The mourning scenes were done quite well also with everyone reacting differently and the song playing in the background–which was supposedly composed by Ah Man–made it all so memorable at the same time.
This series not only has an excellent cast but also an excellent story to go with it.
Posted (on Xanga): November 17, 2008
Re-posted: November 30th, 2010