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 portrayed 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 but 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 seen 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 a 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 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 person(s) 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.

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Top 50 Actors of 2015

4Ml184

(image credit: as marked)

Just saw this so I decided to share. These are the ones people searched for the most on Weibo, etc.

Translations:

1. Li Yi Feng / Lý Dịch Phong

2. Yang Yang / Dương Dương

3. Wallace Chung / Chung Hán Lương

4. Wallace Huo / Hoắc Kiến Hoa

5. Li Chen / Lý Thần

6. Hu Ge / Hồ Ca

7. Michael Chen He / Trần Hách

8. Hawick Lau / Lưu Khải Uy

9. William Chan / Trần Vỹ Đình

10. Chen Xiao / Trần Hiểu

11. Zhang Han / Trương Hàn

12. Ryan Zheng / Trịnh Khải

13. Deng Chao / Đặng Siêu

14. Huang Xiao Ming / Huỳnh Hiểu Minh

15. Lu Yi / Lục Nghị

16. Wu Lei / Ngô Lỗi

17. Lee Jong Suk

18. Kim Soo Hyun

19. Ray Ma Tian Yu / Mã Thiên Vũ

20. Du Chun / Đổ Thuần

21. Luo Jin / La Tấn

22. Lee Min Ho

23. Ma Ke / Mã Khả

24. Jia Nai Liang / Giả Nại Lương

25. Bosco Wong / Huỳnh Tông Trạch

26. Huang Bo / Huỳnh Bột

27. Qiao Zhen Yu / Kiều Chấn Vũ

28. Jing Bo Ran / Tỉnh Bách Nhiên

29. Ji Chang Wook

30. Wu Jing / Ngô Kinh

31. Nicky Wu / Ngô Kỳ Long

32. Tong Da Wei / Đồng Đại Vỹ

33. Chen Xiang / Trần Tường

34. Qiao Ren Liang / Kiều Nhậm Lương

35. Aarif Rahman / Lý Trị Đình

36. Zhu Ya Wen / Chu Á Văn

37. Ren Zhong / Nhậm Trọng

38. Liu Ye / Lưu Diệp

39. Yuan Hong / Viên Hoằng

40. Jin Dong / Cận Đông

41. Wang Bao Qiang / Vương Bảo Cường

42. Wu Xiu Bo / Ngô Tú Ba

43. Zhang Ruo Yun / Trương Nhược Quân

44. Wang Kai / Vương Khải

45. Zhang Dan Feng / Trương Đan Phong

46. Eddie Peng / Bành Vu Yến

47. Sun Hong Lei / Tôn Hồng Lôi

48. Wei Qian Xiang / Ngụy Thiên Tường

49. Ken Chang / Trương Trí Nghiêu

50. Mickey He / Hà Thịnh Minh

The Fate of Roger and Ray

I just want to post this for fun since Roger Kwok and Raymond Cho are two of my favorites. I just noticed some certain details about their collaboration and a little of real life and want to share with everyone–for fun.

TV Serials they were in together:

  • Square Pegs (戇夫成龍): Roger was Ah Wong aka Ting Seung Wong (丁常旺) while Raymond was Bao Gai Chung (包繼宗). It was later found out that Ah Wong was actually Gai Chung and the current Gai Chung was brought home by the uncle in a scheme to gain family assets. Gai Chung was seen at first very jealous of Ah Wong and even looked down on Ah Wong because of Ah Wong’s supposedly retarded state (but it was only because Ah Wong had lost his memory). However, Gai Chung redeemed himself near the end of the series by trying to help the now normal Ah Wong who had regained his memory. Gai Chung was not bad in general but was just jealous of Ah Wong because he could not end up with the girl he loved at first and what was even worst, the girl he loved at first had married Ah Wong. Gai Chung later realized Ah Wong’s good nature and also became more understanding. He and Ah Wong became good brothers so Mr. Bao ended up with two sons.
  • Life Made Simple (阿旺新傳): Roger reprised his role as Ah Wong while Raymond had to take the role of Lok Kui Shing (洛渠成) since the meaty rich guy role had gone to Bosco Wong. However, they had retain some of the little details in association to Raymond and his interactions with Jessica’s character, Fung (鳳). Like how Shing accidentally spill water on Fung’s pants that one time and had to buy her a pair of new pants (while in Square Pegs it was her dress/whole outfit). Shing liked Fung in the later parts of the series but also lost to Ah Wong. Contrary to the previous series, Shing was a normal guy next door and lovable in his own way. He was not jealous of Ah Wong or anyone around him, but had a very kind heart. He liked Fung but did not go out of his way to sabotage Ah Wong or anything. He later became Fung’s best friend and even supported her final decision in returning to Ah Wong’s side. One of the funniest scenes was during Ah Wong and Fung’s wedding, Shing was drunk and when Ah Wong and Fung were going around to different tables so others could offer them wine and words of congratulations, Shing was actually offering wine and saying his words of congrats to Ah Wong’s mother and Uncle Shui instead. Sad moment for Shing BUT kind of hilarious for the rest of us who were watching.
  • The Threshold of a Persona (ID 精英): Roger was Fong Chun Kit (方浚杰) while Raymond was Cheng Pak Yu (鄭柏宇). Both were best friends since whenever. However, their priorities were different with how Pak Yu was willing to cut corners while Chun Kit believed in honest, hard work. Pak Yu’s greed and his way of doing things regardless of method caused him to drift down the wrong path and eventually met his fate. It was very intense between these two, considering how Pak Yu had caused Chun Kit’s wife’s death near the end also.

Conclusion: Raymond can’t win! It’s Roger after all. But that was interesting to see them in the past three serials together. Possibly the next collaboration will be different? Or not? Whenever that might be.

Real Life:

  • Their English names both starts with an ‘R’. Roger and Raymond. Great combination, huh?
  • Their son’s English names both starts with a ‘B’. Roger’s son is Brad and Ray’s son is Brandon. Coincidence?

Anyway, those are all I know for now. Anyone wants to share anymore?

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 story was entertaining enough and sure showed a different side to the genre. I honestly think that TVB is better at those Shanghai series more than its modern serials in recent years. Sure, there has been good scripts and all of the modern serials but the ending will always kill it. But in the Shanghai serials, 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 restore my faith for Michael Miu after watching this. He managed to carried out his character convincingly enough. I guess it was one of those old group vibe 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 stuffs, 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, but 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, but 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 is 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 themesong 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 for 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 disappointment 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, but 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 at 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 but 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

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