Under the Veil

I wanted to watch something of Wayne’s so that was the reason for tuning in to this one. Then I realized Wayne and Sonija were collaborating again so the better for me since I had liked them together after watching Pages of Treasure (and felt they were kind of robbed as a couple in there). I also didn’t have any problem with the rest of the cast so I dove in. As I was patiently waiting for the plot to unfold, I thought it was just another palace related show. However, I was wrong. Yes, the main story arch was regarding the palace and the uprising of some arrogant dude who thought he would be a better ruler. It always happened that way. What made it different was how it brought back feelings of old series. Mostly feelings of ancient series of the old days. It wasn’t being controversial on purpose or try to dramatize everything. The story just flowed along. I found it funny at first that they had several characters in here in various roles and even their characters looked alike. I soon got past that and realized it would be an interesting one. At least it was different. Then I got pulled in by the story. Sure, some were repetitive and reminded me of Liao Zhai related stories. Yet it was refreshing in a sense of the chemistry between various characters. I felt it strange at first that they let Kristal portray a guy. It was almost as if they were running out of cast or something. But then the character grew on me and so did Kristal’s portrayal. (If they did some Mulan adaptation, she would make a perfect Mulan. Not kidding.)

Anyway, aside from the main story arch, I felt the rest of the couples had a fair share of stories. Although Yat Pan Heung was shown as a greedy, flirty, and despicable character at first, the background story for her made sense. She was a prostitute, what was she expected to do? Then she was living in such a place, how could she not come up with different schemes to triumph over others? Who was she supposed to trust? It made sense. The previous happening with the switch and all was only to teach Chu Yi Dan a lesson. It didn’t allow for Yat Pan Heung to justify herself more than that. Because he wasn’t her fate so he only saw her as the fun person, not like his boring wife–as he mistakenly thought. Chu Yi Dan finally learned that his wife was very talented in her own way and very strong. There were many things she’d done for him but he didn’t realize its importance until she was no longer doing them. It made him realized his unreasonableness and knowing that the wife he wanted had been by his side all along. When Yat Pan Heung finally met Hon Tin Loi, the story unfolded and she found her own happiness and what could be considered a normal life. I actually liked those characters more, lol. Call me bias but scholar versus awesome martial arts dude. But both Wayne and Sonija did quite well in bringing out their different roles.

Then there was the story of the Song prince and Princess Lap Ka. Their story was cute at first and then moved toward the tragic route. However, their story was spread out throughout and not bunch together. It created a sense of mystery to it, making you wonder if there would be some sort of miracle in the end, which there was. But it didn’t make it too corny. The story actually made sense in the fairy-tale or folktale kind of way.

The story regarding the fish spirit and Cheung Chan was a mixture of cuteness and tragedy. Although it turned out favorable in the end. But that story brought forth both humor and mystery. The ideal, sweet girl wasn’t who she posed as out in public and a supposedly fish demon wasn’t so evil like often portrayed in others’ eyes. Eliza actually did quite well portraying both roles. She brought out the innocent, cute side of the fish spirit nicely. Then there was the cunning, scheming side of the royal miss, Hung Mao Dan. Her chemistry with Bosco was cute and likable in their own way.

Aside from all the couples in here, I felt some of the notable mentions went to Lee Kwok Lun, portraying two roles (like some others in here) of the turtle spirit and Justice Bao. He was humorous as the turtle spirit and somewhat grim as Justice Bao. Yet he was convincing in both roles. Koo Koon Chung was given a loyal, righteous role in here, which was hilarious. Well, okay, not like he’d never portrayed a good person type of role before, but I was more used to his cunning side or somewhat playful roles in the past. So having him in this role was a nice change. He was a great addition under the reins of Dyun Fung Sam. At the part where it was thought he had abandon Dyun as well, considering how he had a family and all, it was tragic but understandable. Yet he returned after having settled all his families at a safer place. It proved that he really meant what he said, i.e. caring for his family, and that he wasn’t afraid of death–like initially thought.

After all that was said and done, I think the most tragic couple must be Yuen Sam Yeung and Dyun So Sei. The ending for them was so sad. There was supposedly another chance for them at long last after all those years of waiting. However, in the end, they couldn’t be together. Both Raymond and Kristal acted out their scenes so well. Their chemistry wasn’t bad either.

There were many things about this series that made me wanted to defend TVB again, although I know they’re a lost cause for the most part. Most dramas nowadays are always leaning toward “love, love, love” and not so much for the theme of patriotism so I thought this series sort of brought that back into focus. Yes, there were various love stories in here–and it would probably contradict my previous statement somewhat, but I think that they made the right calls for the main story arch, i.e. the side stories weren’t that dragged out for the sake of it. It was more plot-driven than character-driven so it made the pace likable and enjoyable in many ways.

The ending? Although not completely satisfying and I’m sure there were flaws somewhere, but I felt it was nicely executed for the most part. A typical ending with a battle between good versus evil. Yet it united some of the key characters for the epic ending. It was nice seeing Raymond in another role, but this time as Prince Wanyan Siu. He joined forces with them to help find the special liquid and also defeated the ultimate bad guy in here. It was a nice battle scene. Not overdone. They actually worked together to defeat the bad guy AND NOT make it like someone hogged the entire scene for some outright exaggerated battle. It brought forward a sense of joint effort like how it was from the beginning, having different characters participate in the events, not one or two-persons all the time. One of the main reasons why I liked this series. And yes, it was indeed a major surprise that I’m praising it.

Advertisements

Overachievers

I must say that comparing to Rear Mirror, this was much, much, much better. It didn’t mean that this series did not have flaws. It did. But this one was better in the building of suspense and consistency throughout. What broke from the usual conventional series was having Wayne’s other half appeared somewhere along the way and not just introduce every character first and then try to weave stories in along the way. It made it different and I feel somewhat hopeful for TVB series again. Only somewhat though, lol.

Main Cast:

  • Wayne Lai as Mike Chiang Yuen (蒋元). His character was a mixture of cleverness and recklessness. It was hard to describe and I guess people could like him for this role because his character wasn’t pulled toward one side of the spectrum or the other. In other words, not too extremely nice or too extremely annoying. This character was in-between. I actually liked that more. Or perhaps I think he had enough roles where he was too hot-headed or too nice. Sure, he was righteous at times or was too trusting at others. Yet when he got mad, it sure was scary. His reactions during different situations made it less predictable. It was always depending on the circumstances.
  • Nancy Wu as Mandy Ting Man-Chi (丁漫姿) / Ah Man. I think this role restored my faith in Nancy. I don’t know. It was just that of recent, her roles were either a hit or miss for me. Mostly miss so I wondered what happened. She was getting more opportunities yet she wasn’t impressive, just average. I was comparing it to her past roles, NOT comparing her to others. (I usually do that for most people.) With this role, I didn’t feel like the scriptwriters tried too hard to make her stand out. She existed as another character within this complicated story yet she stood out because her character was real, not trying. I could really feel her suffering during the worst moments and her calmness when she finally found true happiness. Not just because she found someone more suitable for her, but it was like she felt she could let go of her past, etc.
  • Raymond Wong as Hugo Chung Hiu Yeung (鍾曉陽). I haven’t watched much of TVB of recent except a pick and choose here and there. But was Raymond thinking of going on the path of the bad guy after his success of being a semi-villain hero? If so, he sure knew when to pick the time. There were many things Hugo said that one couldn’t help but sympathize with him. Yet I felt there were many things that were too frustrating. Not because he betrayed Mike and Mandy throughout the story, hurting them time after time when they trusted him–both professionally and personally. That was just a part of it. It was like the scriptwriters wanted to make him into this super complicated character yet failed to impress in the end. Raymond’s performance wasn’t bad. It was just that the character was too unconvincing in many ways. It gave kids who suffered a painful childhood a bad name. Sure, that was a possibility of having endured so much pain and violence within the household that he could have gone to the extreme and not know that what he did was wrong, especially with what happened in the later years when he grew up. It sure was a painful childhood and it had impacted him. A LOT. But that was like almost every single TVB series. Making the victim the bad guy, in the end, not giving them a chance to seek help or portray them in a better light. It was almost as bad as keep showing people with psychological problems running around shooting others, etc. It was getting too repetitive.
  • Edwin Siu as Yuen Siu-Tin (袁小田). I have mixed feelings for him throughout. I liked his snappy jokes at times and how he contributed to Mike’s workplace later on. Yet other times, I felt it didn’t really contribute to the story. Okay, I got it that he got his side story and I sort of enjoyed that somewhat. But I felt it was just all right. Luckily, it didn’t overshadow the main story.
  • Power Chan as Lee Chau Kan (李秋芹). At first, I felt he was annoying with how he fought with Mike and all. However, I realized it was just that he was a straightforward person, not knowing how to say those sweet words. He wore his heart on his sleeves so he didn’t care if others didn’t like his honesty. He did care very much for his family though and didn’t want to fight yet there were many things he wasn’t able to control. At first, he couldn’t get along with Mike (mostly because of Mike yet Mike couldn’t be blamed either), but later they learned many things about each other and gotten along better as a result of so many things unfolding. They even joined forces later.
  • Raymond Cho as Andy Chiang Sing (蔣昇). I don’t know what to say. Seriously, he seemed to support Mike at times yet he was too cowardly to take a big step forward against their father. It was probably because of his lack of confidence and how the old man really knew where to poke hence him not being able to take a big leap to decide for himself.
  • Maggie Siu as Flora Kwan Fa-lai (关花拉). Maggie was hilarious in here. She was very lovable in her own way, despite sometimes arguing with Mike senselessly. Although her role seemed to pale compared to others, I felt she contributed greatly to the story. It was shocking that she had to be sacrificed in the end. But I felt it wasn’t too out of nowhere. Still, tragic.

Supporting:

  • Susanna Kwan as Lee Chau Ping (李秋萍). She was indeed a manipulative person YET she didn’t realize she had also fallen under Hugo’s spell. Or was it more like she didn’t care as long as her daughter was happy? Well, she didn’t know. Lucky for her, it wasn’t too late for her case. Susanna, of course, didn’t disappoint in her performance.
  • Elliot Yue as Chiang Sing-Tin (蔣承天). Another strong, fierce role for him. He thought he was powerful yet he didn’t realize his biggest mistake was underestimating his enemies.
  • Jason Chan as Louie Chiang Tsun (蔣進). I felt really sad for him. He was a sweet guy and only wanted to follow his path and be accepted for who he was. Yet the pressure was a lot higher because of how his family put a lot of emphasis on reputation and all. He didn’t want to fight with his siblings or anything for the spot. Among all the children of the Chiang family, I thought he was the most innocent of them all. He didn’t belong there yet he couldn’t escape his fate. Then he became a tool for Hugo’s schemes. I felt Jason had reached a new level, not just the good looking guy anymore. Not because of the role he portrayed, but the nature of his character and what he had to deal with–both personally and the events surrounding him.
  • Grace Chan as Abby Chiang Lai (蔣勵). I don’t know. I didn’t care for her character from the start. It wasn’t because I later realized she ended up going with Hugo, BUT she was just there. I usually don’t pick on people for just being there, but she was just too whatever for me to care. I also felt like she seemed to think she had a lot of morality in her yet in the end, she had become the third-party. It didn’t matter if she tried to help Hugo previously, and that the trauma of later wasn’t totally her fault. Yet she continued to tag Hugo without considering Mandy’s feelings. The most despicable part was how she turned around and accused Hugo of returning to Mandy’s side when Hugo was cheating on her with Ivy.
  • Sisely Choi as Ma Siu-Ming (馬小明). I actually quite like her from the group of newbies. Her character was also a nice addition to the plot, unlike someone.
  • Fred Cheng as Ko Hing (高興). So lovable and cute. Although portraying a mentally challenged kid, but he was impressive and contributed to the plot majorly. His character became the string that pulled Mike and his father back together. Even if they all weren’t really related but for some reason the old man just loved him.
  • Yoyo Chen as Tong Ching (湯晴). I didn’t blame her. All right, she had a colorful past and all. But I didn’t blame her. I thought that was the past. Sometimes I just didn’t know what to say. Andy was too paranoid and lacked self-confidence. I sort of didn’t get why she accepted him in the first place.
  • Ali Lee as Ivy Yu Si Lam (余诗琳). Even if she thought she was smart, in the end, she lost major time.

Others:

  • Becky Lee as Man Ka Yau (文嘉瑜). Mike’s ex-wife. Mixed feelings.
  • Lau Kong as (文世光). Man Ka Yau’s father. He played a major role later on since Mike needed his help and all.
  • Cheung Kwok Keung as Dickson. Seriously? I thought he was going to get a bigger role. Can’t believe he just appeared, followed orders, and faded into the background. Sure, he provided some important information to Mike later on, but it was like he was just there.

Recommended? I think it’s worth it. Worth it a lot more than some recent series.