Top 50 Actresses of 2018

(image credit: as marked)

Translation:

  1. Zanilia Zhao Li Ying / Triệu Lệ Dĩnh

  2. Yang Mi / Dương Mịch

  3. Di Li Re Ba / Địch Lệ Nhiệt Ba

  4. Yang Zi / Dương Tử

  5. Tiffany Tang Yan / Đường Yên

  6. Guan Xiao Tong / Quan Hiểu Đồng

  7. Victoria Song / Tống Tây

  8. Zheng Shuang / Trịnh Sảng

  9. Tamia Liu Tao / Lưu Đào

  10. Ju Jing Yi / Cúc Tịnh Y

  11. Lareina Song / Tống Tổ Nhi

  12. Janine Chang / Trương Quân Ninh

  13. Tong Li Ya / Đồng Lệ Á

  14. Lin Qin / Lý Thấm

  15. Jiang Shu Ying / Giang Sơ Ảnh

  16. Crystal Liu Yi Fei / Lưu Diệc Phi

  17. Angelababy / Yang Ying / Dương Dĩnh

  18. Crystal Zhang Tian Ai / Trương Thiên Ái

  19. Cecilia Han Xue / Hàn Tuyết

  20. Regina Wan / Vạn Tây

  21. Zhou Dong Yu / Châu Đông Vũ

  22. Li Yi Tong / Lý Nhứt Đồng

  23. Hu Bing Qing / Hồ Băng Khanh

  24. Shen Yue / Thẩm Nguyệt

  25. Fan Bing Bing / Phạm Băng Băng

  26. Cecilia Liu Shi Shi / Lưu Thi Thi

  27. Yoona

  28. Li Xiao Ran / Lý Tiểu Nhiễm

  29. Yang Rong / Dương Dung

  30. Sebrina Chen Yao / Trần Dao

  31. Sandra Ma / Mã Tư Thuần

  32. Jiang Xin / Tưởng Hân

  33. Qin Lam / Tần Lam

  34. Sun Yi / Tôn Di

  35. Stephy Qi Wei / Thích Vy

  36. Betty Sun Li / Tôn Lệ

  37. Lolita Wang / Vương Hiểu Thần

  38. Vicki Zhao / Triệu Vy

  39. @@@@

  40. Guli Nazha / Cổ Lực Na Trát

  41. Wendy Zhang / Trương Tử Phong

  42. Sally Jing Tian / Cảnh Điềm

  43. Dong Jie / Đổng Khiết

  44. Ruby Lin / Lâm Tâm Như

  45. Charmaine Sheh / Xa Thi Mạn

  46. Wang Li Kun / Vương Lệ Khôn

  47. Zhang Xue Ying / Trương Tuyết Nghênh

  48. Zhou Xun / Châu Tấn

  49. Xin Zhi Lei / Tân Chỉ Lôi

  50. Xie Na / Tạ Na

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When Heaven Burns

I watched this one because my mom was looking for something serious to watch after all those sitcoms we were watching–among other comedies. First off, the title. I must admit that I was in objection of it when the title got changed from Heaven and Earth to When Heaven Burns but after having watched it, I could say that it suited the series quite well. Seriously, it was so intense and nerve-wrecking at various points so in a way, it wasn’t too lame with changing the title. After all, the Chinese title was still Heaven and Earth, right?  So how was it? Honestly, people who skipped it just missed a really good series. YES, that coming from me who have been ranting about recent series (and even got scolded for it on this blog). For once, I didn’t mind the repetitive team and/or group who contributed in this series. I meant not that I didn’t like the cast (okay, maybe for one or two persons), but I just got tired seeing them together all the time. I was curious so I tuned in along with my mom anyway. Yet I found it more enjoyable than I expected. People who think that this series was dragging shouldn’t even give it another go because you already set an opinion, so don’t let me convince you and later come back to scold me. Because seriously, if you think this was dragging, I’m not sure what ‘dragging’ mean anyway. Sure, it was slow and passive at times, BUT it did not mean dragging. There was this underlying heaviness and intensity building up episode after episode until the breaking point that led to the mind buzzing mind games in the later half of the series. Don’t believe me? It’s okay. You don’t have to. And perhaps I don’t like over-hyped stuffs so I enjoyed this series even more. Though the cast seemed to be promoted heavily of recent but the series did not aim to ‘shove it into your face’, or I didn’t get that feeling like they were trying to sell something. Maybe that was why it worked.
Moving on, like my usual reviews, I will place in the whole ‘cast/characters’ discussions–among other things. But will also include the ‘theme’ part this time around as well since I feel it’s essential and actually feel like discussing it more specifically for this series. However, I won’t include ‘couples/pairings’ this time around because I feel that wasn’t the point of the drama. YES, there were love spread into the drama at times, making things even more complicated with relationships. But that was just part of the small piece and I don’t want to get distracted with it for this one series.
Main Cast/Characters:

  • Charmaine Sheh as Hazel Yip Chi Yan (葉梓恩).  A character worth watching after so many of her recent ‘goody two shoes’ ones. I mean I like to see her in those ‘nice and kind’ ones too. YET I felt she was getting rusty or would get there soon if she doesn’t take on any challenging role soon. Sure, the majority of the characters in here had to be quite serious as well. But I felt this one was a role that she won me over again with her portrayal. It wasn’t too much or too little. It was just right with her passiveness at times or her cold composure. She managed to capture those moments when Yan was hurting so much that she didn’t know where to turn to (aka all lost and confused). Then there was the whole not caring for the world attitude. There were so many complications in her life that she couldn’t handle, even turning to different means as an outlet–like senseless one-night stands or alcohol. I was really disturbed at first with how her character appeared to be cheating and all, but somehow sympathize with her later with how her family was so broken and her being stuck in the past for so long that she was hurting herself and others around her. The worst part was not being able to pull out until later. But what I really liked about her character throughout was her stubbornness. Once she made a decision, she didn’t waver anymore. There was another thing that they (the script-writers) added to her character that I quite like, which was the whole deep thoughts and stories in her radio segments. I like those narrations and it sort of set the tone for what was going on around them and how the guys–or other characters–would think it over as they listened to her segment. It was somewhat a narration or reflective moment at times when the scenes were happening around them but there was only her words to convey the message of those scenes–and the impact of what just happened.
    • Angel Chiang as the young Yan. Though she doesn’t resemble Charmaine to be a younger version of Yan but she has the spunk and grace for the character. I really enjoyed her chemistry with the rest of the guys throughout as a band. Her bravery to fight against the guys at times was quite admirable as well. Maybe that was just her rebellious nature.
  • Moses Chan as Angus Sung Yee Long (宋以朗). After all those so-called ‘comedies’, he finally returned to the more serious roles as well. Mixed feelings at times actually. Maybe it was his intimidating image that had made the others believe he might have been the cause of their role in the Ka Ming conspiracy, BUT it wasn’t so. Perhaps Joe was right with his whole ‘drummer versus guitarist/lead singer’ theory/concept because that was what made Angus more suspicious out of the three of them. What was admirable of him–even IF that seemed like an excuse to like his character–was whoever he hurt, he didn’t hurt the people within his group of friends (aka between the four of them, i.e. Joe, Ronnie, and Yan). It was like he was compensating for what he’d done in the past hence leading a distorted life yet didn’t want to hurt the other three more than he already did. (Possibly that was the difference between him and Joe.) What made me not being able to forgive him in the end was sacrificing Jessica in order to get back at Ben (and eventually Joe). Did he have to do that? He probably thought so but that little act condemned him even more with his already life sentence (even if it wasn’t served in prison). SO Jessica had agreed to help him after confronting him BUT he should have considered it more, considering how Jessica had been so loyal to him throughout. (Or was he too blind with hatred and/or wanting to take revenge that he didn’t care? Not to mention how he was so close to winning.)
    • Yeung Chiu Hoi as the young Angus. Consistent enough. He looked less intimidating than his current self, of course, but for obvious reasons. However, there were always traces of the lack in confidence in him and the reluctance that was still present.
  • Bowie Lam as Joe Lau Chun Hung (劉俊雄). Was I the only one who got fooled by his character? Okay, so I was trying to put my biases past Bowie since I found his expressions always so intimidating regardless of the roles he portrayed and thought I was being mean for picking on him. So I tried to focus on his character instead and what was going on around his character. YET I was wrong to think he was some poor guy who was trying to repent–with his wife not understanding him and even cheated on him. Sadly no. He was the most dangerous one out of the three. He was so charming in character and so manipulative in his words that made everyone felt they were in the wrong more than him. Often taking the blame and sounding like he was protecting the others yet he was just protecting himself by letting others think he was the victim. The part where he was telling Angus the reason why he picked up playing the drum really summed up his character. He told Angus that he used to think it was so cool being a guitarist and sing at the same time, having all the attention. However, he later realized that the drummer actually held the key to it all because the band had to follow the drummer’s rhythm or they would be all off (aka the drummer controlled all with forcing everyone to play fast or slow). Seriously, it really boiled down to him being able to control everything in front of him with his careful planning and patience throughout–and most of all his persuasive abilities.
    • Ronald Law as the young Joe. He managed to look as intimidating? LOL! I had no idea but I guess he was convincing as the younger version of Joe since there were signs present that showed how the current Joe hadn’t changed–with some flashbacks here and there.
    • Signs that Joe isn’t all bad. AND NO, I’m not talking about the whole ‘facade’ he put up at times to deceive them–regardless of when he was younger or at times when he was older. I’m talking about when it was finally revealed that he was actually the most manipulative among the three guys. There were parts like him lying or trying to get through some sticky situations yet during his time alone, he would reconsider. Another time and more obvious was after Cloris’ death and him crying out in his office finally–while he was deleting her text messages to him.
  • Kenny Wong as Ronnie Cheng Chun Hin (鄭振軒). He started out as losing his memory and then recovering it slowly. We all hate the ‘lost memory’ card, right? But it made sense this time since he and the other two went through a near-death experience after all. Not to mention how he was traumatized along with the others during the whole incident. He strike first and planted the seed of evil. (YES, he was the one who stabbed Ka Ming first when Ka Ming was lying inside the tent resting.) But repented greatly later, wanting to pay for his sin. But wasn’t given the chance in that way. Instead, he paid for it with his eyes, and some more.
    • Kelvin Leung as the young Ronnie. Another good choice because he merged in quite well with Kenny’s portrayal because Ronnie seemed to me as always the passive one OR possibly the invisible one out of the three guys (aside from Ka Ming).

The reason why I only listed 4 as the main cast AND not like the other lists had indicated was because I felt the story revolved around those characters for the majority of the time and it took them to resolve all the conflicts as well.
Supporting Cast/ Characters:

  • Ben Wong as Bowman. The reason why I put him first was sort of by order of appearance and somewhat because I’m biased (LOL). Anyway, he was actually somewhat my favorite character throughout despite his limited screen time. (Though acceptable since I felt he contributed to the story with tying in different characters and moving the story forward but didn’t need to be ‘in your face’ to get the point across.) I felt so bad for him at the beginning since he was just part of the whole charade that Yan was putting up for herself, wanting to find replacements for her past (and more specifically for Ka Ming). But then I had somewhat forgiven Yan for deceiving him. Though that didn’t mean I like him less because I found him very genuine, not tainted by all the things around them. Ben had made that happened with his portrayal–regardless of the amount of screen time he had. In a way, I was glad he got a new start later–after Yan finally sorted out her mind (for good). (Side-note: My mom actually wanted to see Ben portray Kenny’s character instead YET I had convinced her it wasn’t a good idea because that would mean he was part of the ‘cannibalism’ conspiracy. LOL! NOT that anyone was being sacrificed in the events of shooting the drama but those types of characters were disturbing still, LOL!)
  • Maggie Siu as Emma. One of Maggie’s couldn’t care less roles? I don’t know. It seemed like it didn’t fit her. I had a hard time imagining Emma so dumb, mostly due to Maggie. NOT that I doubt her acting in the past, but this time it seemed weird. I don’t know what happened. But it was like she was uncomfortable with the role? I enjoyed her chemistry with Moses when they were shown as a somewhat cute couple at first. Yet it all crumbled in the later events (mostly due to the story), but I also had a hard time with her character was that naive. But I guess her character wasn’t too unbelievable since she was so sheltered by her sister and how she sort of depended heavily on her sister to look after the family business so she didn’t have to worry about other stuffs.
  • Astrid Chan as Gina. I had mixed feelings for her throughout the series but I let go of certain judgments later on because I felt she was another victim in this whole web of lies and other deception games. So she chosen to stick around and continued with her role but I felt she was so given a bad image or seemed to reflect so in front of the others at the beginning because her husband was so good at acting that she had been pushed to become the ‘bad person’. Astrid didn’t fail to deliver her emotions throughout, projecting her image–or what we were led into believing–and the actual tormenting turmoils she went through later on.
    • Joey Mak as the young Gina. Good casting actually since she somewhat resembled Astrid. OR did they do the make up that way and somewhat of the hairstyle too? Not sure but she did manage to show consistency in the character.
  • Felix Lok as Dr. Ivan Wong. At first, I found him too despicable because of the affair he was involved in. But I sort of pity him later. Just slightly. Or perhaps I wasn’t so judging of him anymore. A minimal role for Felix but he played a key role in the end. Somewhat, but it wasn’t like he needed to prove himself.
  • Angela Tong as Shirley. Ronnie’s wife. I was arguing with my mom whether her character accepted Ronnie regardless if her husband had once eaten someone OR if she was too traumatized and didn’t want to believe. YET I had to wonder in the later parts of the plot after things cooled down. YES, she relied on her husband the majority of the time. But let that slide as well? Do people just accept things just like that? (I meant cannibalism isn’t like shop-lifting. Sure, both could be repeated BUT shop-lifting dealt with the store’s possession versus a human being.) Regardless of the ambiguous of her character, I thought Angela did quite well with conveying all the torn feelings she’d gone through. AND no, I’m not saying it’s unrealistic with her character, just felt that it was worth some thinking with her point of views–and how it was a different sort of reaction from the other female population in here. AND yet it made one really think about human nature–and whether one choose to accept or to dodge.
  • Queenie Chu as Jessica. I think she was the most pitiful in here. Some could argue that she got what she deserved because she aided Angus in deceiving Emma–and possibly others. YET I felt she had always been loyal to Angus and only loved him hence it was too cruel to see her being sacrificed as his final pawn. The scene with her and Angus at the music store was quite touching. She didn’t ask for anything extraordinary–and had never asked for more, except for him to play a song for her one last time. Indeed, she was right that Angus was the most truthful or real when he was playing his music. The other thing about her that made it even more sad was how she was a replacement for Yan at first (could be seen through various points of when Angus was playing the guitar at the shop and saw Yan sitting there instead of the actual Jessica) and gradually earning a place in Angus’ heart with how he finally took the hint to be more attentive to her (mostly through Ben’s urging BUT Angus began to open his eyes to see Jessica for herself, not as a Yan who he could never be with), like how he was giving her the birthday gift (aka his necklace) to symbolize her importance in his heart. Yet it was just too late for them when he pulled the final card (i.e. sacrificing her as well) and perhaps that little scene with him playing the guitar for Emma (and actually picturing both Yan and Jessica) made it somewhat forgivable for him? NOT like completely forgivable but like how she finally earned a spot in his heart. Anyway, another different role for Queenie and I think she nailed it.
  • Cheung Kwok Keung as Ben. He got robbed. NOT the character, but CKK. Personal opinions here since seeing him in these types of roles just make me want to cry because I imagine him all so powerful in some of his previous roles. (One of the most memorable was in No. 8 Bus.) Anyway, he didn’t fail to deliver with convincing us he was this despicable character who betrayed his boss again and again. Yet I felt it was kind of lame that they had him playing the harmonica and trying to seek sympathy from Jessica in the end. I swear it was a bit over-killed with linking everyone to music–one way or another, but I will let it slide. (Like I could do anything anyway.)
  • Lau Dan as Uncle Chuen. Had some major scenes at the beginning but still didn’t lack in importance later on. It was his mission to help Joe repent from his past wrongdoings, and he made it his responsibility to bring Joe back to the correct path near the end as well. Yet it was too late. Or was it? AND do I need to say anything else about his acting? Convincing as always.
  • Cindy Lee as Cloris. Also a pawn in here and this had to do with Joe. Yet I can’t feel any pity for her though I was shocked by her death. I meant, okay her final moments were really worrisome and tragic, and I know I’m heartless to not pity her. But she had it coming. She criticized and chastised Gina at the beginning for cheating on Joe YET she ended up helping Joe cheat on Gina? Love’s blind YET she had it coming. The reason I was shocked, of course, was I didn’t expect her to die. I would expect the usual seeking out Gina later to confront Gina or would just go crazy, not death. Though her ending indeed made an impact on Joe when he broke down while deleting her messages. (As mentioned earlier.)
  • Elaine Jin as Brenda. She was an interesting character at first because of her mysterious nature with possibly being the only one to overthrow Angus. YET I lost interest in her character after she fall into Joe’s trap as well. WHAT? I don’t care if they were having an affair either since I was used to Joe’s manipulation already. But what I was disappointed at was seeing how she fall into his trap so easily. Or was she just letting go and using him to enjoy her remaining days? Another way to look at it though was emphasizing Joe’s ability to manipulate–even the most cunning person in here (at least from the female side).
  • Chan Hung Lit as George. His second last role and he got this? How memorable. NOT. But anyway, to be honest, he did quite well (OF COURSE) and I think it got cut off because of the inevitable? NOT SURE. But it wasn’t too lame in covering the tracks because he could might as well just disappear though he was sent on a mission to uncover Angus’ secrets elsewhere. (Though I shouldn’t even blame anyone or be mean about it since no one knew this one was his second last role, right?)
  • Tsui Wing as Arthur. I really, really hated him at first (equally as Yan so don’t worry about me picking on just the guy) but later, I was like whatever. And TW showed us another side of him in here with this role.
  • Andy Dai as Sam. The minute I heard ‘Sam’, it reminded me of his role in this old series called Exchanging Couples (OR something like that), because he was also named Sam in there (and the fact that his wife/later ex-wife in there worked at a radio station as well made it even more familiar). He was quite funny in here. So he was trying to be serious and at times appearing quite arrogant–as most bosses were allowed to. But it made it even funnier that he thought they were supposed to worship him yet they were just conning him at times.
  • Joe Junior as Dr. Dylan. The person driving the whole ‘rock and roll’ theme forward in here. Though the rest of them were there with their goth look and all, but I thought it wouldn’t be the same without his recounts of past events and his passionate talks about ‘rock and roll’ from time to time. They definitely needed a respected elder to point them into the right direction or telling them to go with the music, etc. His talk about life wasn’t cheesy either but it made sense, incorporating into the overall theme itself.
  • Rachel Kan as Daisy. Sort of a double-faced person, but I don’t blame her since she was quite witty with her comments (even if it was mostly through sarcasm). And the other reason of being bitter was having to cover for Emma just because Sam wanted to score points with Emma.
  • Catherine Chau as Mabel. Almost didn’t recognize her. Maybe it was because of the image. It was all right I guess, fitting in with her character and making her sort of wild along with the other two. It was kind of random that she got together with Arthur at one point (since Arthur claimed to really love Yan, so much for it).
  • Stanley Cheung as Hui Ka Ming (許家明). The unfortunate guy that got eaten by Angus, Joe, and Ronnie. I put him last on purpose (AND YES to make a point). Was this what they called the weakest link? He was really kind-hearted and down to earth from those flashbacks.

Themes:

  • Cannibalism. YES, I placed this first because that was the ‘advertised’ theme at the beginning–even before the actual filming took place. It was just a small part of the story but had a really big impact. Because they only showed a bit of it at the beginning and a more graphic (IF could be called ‘graphic’ at all) scene later on when the truth finally unfolded. But they didn’t dwell on it. They moved on to the ‘forgiving’ part and the whole ‘repenting’ part. Or what could be called an attempt to heal–if at all.
  • Friendship. It was all over the place in here. Yet it was real. Besides, what’s the right way to be friends anyway, right? What I mean is those random times between Hazel and her co-workers versus what she would do with the other three guys.
  • Black/White. The morality in here was also quite scattered but understandable. Yet it had made its point that life was more about the grayness of it all more than establishing boundaries. Sure, people could put up boundaries all they want YET the outcome when those things happened was different. In short, you don’t know what you would do until the actual moment. ‘What ifs’ could not measure the real impact anyway.
  • Rock and Roll. The reason for the whole goth look throughout the series with the majority. And at first I felt it would be too wannabe with seeing them trying to fit in and act like they were caring about ‘rock and roll’. BUT it wasn’t so. I was so glad that they made it so natural with different characters talking about ‘rock and roll’ but tied it in with the whole story. They weren’t trying too hard either (for once).

Favorites: Basically, I like the whole series–regardless of how random it got at times but it made sense and let us explore the characters even more. But there are other things I want to focus on as well.

  • Dark. I guess what made the whole thing worked was its goth nature and how it didn’t manage to crank the hype up by throwing in some other things. It appeared boring (to some people) and passive, but it was like they were waiting for that dark curtain to lift and free them all. The darkness of it all (NOT literally but could be) allowed for a wider range of exploration–whether through the mind or other types of interactions.
  • Consistent. I’m talking about both the consistency in personalities for the characters who had a younger version of themselves in here, and of the storyline itself as an overall. It was a bonus of a so-called ‘slow’ series because it covered most of the tracks with its flow. It was never too fast or too slow, but drove the point loud and clear in the end.
  • Filming Technique. I was surprised and somewhat blew away by how it was filmed with merging the two worlds into the story–back and forth–throughout the whole story. I will admit that it was a bit confusing at first but I got used to it later and really liked how they used the past as bits and pieces of the puzzles–until they reached the end. Awesome indeed.
  • Karma’s Kick. Chills literally ran down my back when the mother of that kid call out his name, telling him to apologize to Gina in the hospital. I must admit I was soooo scared that the ending would be corny and cheesy with everyone getting together singing a ‘Barney song’. (SORRY, inside joke if you know what I mean.) But it wasn’t so. NOT that I’m the type that wants to see deaths left and right. In fact, I’m more peace-loving than I let on at times. But what I felt throughout the series was the intensity that reeked so strongly as each episode went by, so how could they mend things just like that? Yet when Joe died, I only felt okay so one of the bad guys died, and indeed it was because of his own doing. Not to mention it was too late to return. But it wasn’t so. It was until the kid’s mother called his name (also Ka Ming like their friend Ka Ming), it totally went over my head and really made it more complicated in a way. In fact, it was really the writer’s intention because Gina had literally stopped in shock and finally realized it was really karma getting her husband, NOT just because he died saving a kid. YES, there was something inside him (something still good in there though he had claimed it was too late) that insisted that he wasn’t all bad. He even made an effort to buy his wife a gift for their upcoming anniversary, and then the obvious with him wanting to save the kid the instant he saw the kid wandering out in the street. But it was like the time to pay his debt had arrived. What about the other guys? Ronnie lost his vision and had to face the authorities regarding the case involving Joe. The final question that the investigation detective had asked Angus upon his departure was if Angus had felt lucky that he had gotten away for what all three of them had done. But Angus had replied, “How would you know I’m not facing my own punishment?” Indeed, Angus’ punishment was never seeing Yan again because she had claimed that she would leave and would never come back. That was on the surface though because I seriously think that Angus had already paid somewhat for his betrayal to Ka Ming. Why? Yan had stabbed him that one time at the apartment where they used to gather and practice their music after learning the truth version as to what really happened to Ka Ming–and Yan. Then she came back–as if having forgiven him already. (Yeah, call me superstitious but I sort of want to elaborate on that little possibility as some of the details were relevant to the story.) That was why Angus received the lightest punishment physically. (And personally, I think the reason why Angus got the lightest punishment was because he never intended or really agreed to their actions at first with Joe trying to convince him, pulling him out of the tent to talk about it since Joe was saying Ka Ming would die anyway. Then before they knew it, Ronnie had already stabbed Ka Ming–and they just went ahead with the plan. Perhaps Angus’ reluctance at first and his deep regret later made it more pitiful? Sure, he participated in different schemes later on and wasn’t so ‘good’ anyway, but before Ronnie recovered his memory, between the two of them, Angus had showed more regrets among them all, knowing he was already marked to pay a debt.) Emotionally, all three would always be scarred with what they did–regardless. Though I think Joe had finally got his release from it all, because usually the ones staying behind are the ones who have to face with the cruel truth–no matter how they try to repent themselves.
  • Full circle. I almost forgot about this but it was the scene where Yan saw a group of five going into the apartment building where they once practiced at and found Angus renting the apartment out to the five teenagers. Life was full of both the expected and unexpected. Yet it seemed familiar with how they once started out.
  • Alternate Ending. Most of us probably hate alternate endings, but I thought this one was well planned and well executed. Maybe because of the ‘what if’ concept and not the actual thing with TVB playing us, saying it didn’t happen, they were doing the ‘what if’ at the beginning. (LOL, that would suck big time because they did put us through so much since the beginning.) And the most unexpected thing (but made sense) was it was Yan who held the key to it all if their lives had been different. Why? It was revealed when Yan was walking to the bus stop at the end that “if she had turned around, Ka Ming wouldn’t leave with the guys to the mountains” thus their lives leading toward a normality–with everyone not suffering with endless guilt til the end. Then there was also the possibilities of the other people’s lives like how Emma would’ve gotten married with that one lawyer guy, Angus might have started something with Jessica, etc. And one day, just like the scene showed with them reuniting to sing and enjoy their music once in awhile. But to get back to Yan and her decision, maybe that was why she tortured herself, indulging in guilt all these years? She was blaming herself more than anyone because if she had turned around, then Ka Ming wouldn’t leave. But it was too much to take so she had chosen to blame it on the others and severed her ties from them rather than confronting her own demons. SURE, the others were at fault for making that decision, but it was from her own take that she could’ve made a difference if she didn’t leave. Interesting take indeed.
  • The sub-theme song. At first, I was like ‘whatever’ since I didn’t like the three guys’ singing too much. How wrong I was. Because I actually like it a lot more when the last two episodes came around. Because at that point, it made sense. Though some earlier episode showed them composing it together that one night. But I still thought it would be one of those moments and then they were back to scheming again. That was it. Yet the song finally came into importance when they finally reunited onstage and performed together with their counterparts. (And just for clarification, for the relevancy of the story, the characters wrote it BUT in real life, some of the talented musicians/lyricists had made it happen. Go here for the translations from llwy12.) Oh yeah, for some weird reason, when they sang onstage like that, it seemed to be the live version? (Like it wasn’t obvious with the stage setup but at times nowadays, we wouldn’t know if they just sync in the studio version.) Or was it? I wasn’t sure but it sounded different from how it was in the sub-theme.

On a concluding note, I must give this series a ‘one of the best of 2011’ label. This actually deserved to be on a mantel for once. This really put the ‘quality’ part back into some of the recent TVB productions. YET if people are just looking for some ‘excitement’, better skip it. Because this wasn’t another ‘hype-up’ series trying to draw in viewers just for the sake of it. But about a journey all of us must go through in life, accepting things, reflecting on things, forgiving or not forgiving, etc. In short, it was the explorations of the mind and heart.

Miss Hong Kong 2001

Definite signs of deterioration. No doubt about it. Though the opening was interesting but still…the entertainment parts were always way better for some reason. I must say that each year they managed to come up with a different theme. Not bad. The contestants were introduced and they had to list why they were eligible to enter the next round. Man, most of them were definitely bragging. Guess they were testing to see if the contestants could be witty without being arrogant. BUT it was hard.

The hosts: Eric, Louis, and Sonija…

Judges: Pauline, Gallen, Charmaine, Hacken, and some others…

Definitely signs of TVB using internal resources more than ever. Gallen looked so handsome though! (mwuhahaha) Charm looked so cute in that outfit. (Okay, I know half of the population hates her but I love her since she won me over.)

Scenes when they were outside usually made them look better for some reason. Strange…

After Patrick Tang and some people performed, we were finally led into the questioning part. PHEW…not sure how worse it could get but whatever. Sonija got to introduce the contestants while Eric and Louis were in charge of grilling the contestants. GOSH…it was killing me. Eric and Louis should’ve killed them all already so they couldn’t pass. #6 was all right. At least she didn’t stutter. (Though it was all right that she mixed her languages.) Where in the world did they get all these contestants? AND poor Eric, had to look up so much. These girls were honestly too tall. #18’s question was funny. George Washington was still holding the ax, LOL! Darn! These girls were killing me. Shirley’s question was the easiest BUT she didn’t get it? How slow could she get? Only like about three could provide some decent answers.

Jordan Chan will take them to Japan? Poor Jordan! I actually liked the effects where Jordan was drawing/painting and the pictures came to live. That was about it. Then there was also the part they were transported to the city and other areas. Very exotic and cool. That was about it. No comment regarding the ‘beauties’. I thought they looked better when they covered up because their bodies were too much of a sight to me. (Seriously, I must agree with Eric that most of them looked like they haven’t gone through puberty yet.)

Last part before they picked top 12? Joey Yung and Ekin Cheng. (What a coincidence!) Joey Yung looked better than the contestants! (I know that was mean but honestly.) Interesting story. Kind of cute… I’d already gone out of the ‘Ekin’ phase so I wasn’t really paying attention. (But I think Ekin must have improved in his singing or something? Since he sounded better than the last time.) The settings were quite grand though. The crew totally made it happen.

Miss Photogenic? Shirley got it? Umm…no comment. I guess she seemed better than most of them for some reason.

They were each given a lamp and would take the label off. The ones who got the ‘X’ would be out.

Gilbert Lam was the person who introduced the judges at the beginning of the second part? Cool! I totally forgot about him! He’s so cool. Too bad he didn’t get to stick around much. Or perhaps that was better since it would be too much to stand.

(I didn’t want to say it before but I was seeing the pattern of Angels of Missions people in here. BUT of course, AOM was after this. Still interesting to see.)

I totally forgot that Leon was in here also since he opened up the show with his performance. (Snore-land though it was an upbeat song.) The whole time he was singing, I was like, “Hand it to Aaron already.” Mean, I know. But I was yawning too much. He’s not suitable for upbeat songs.

The next part was funnier though–much more entertaining–since Hacken was seen walking along with Natalis and Alan on the camels, trying to find their way to the show, LOL. Natalis and Alan were pondering if they were lost, LOL. And then Hacken was saying they heard Leon’s voice so they must be going in the right direction. Alan was even saying how Hacken was easily fooled by Eric’s words (i.e. he was the one who told them the directions, lol). Then the contestants got to tell everyone their dreams and/or goals. But Natalis, Alan, and Hacken’s rants were funnier. Eric had been in some sort of accident (according to their recounts) so he was unable to make it.

The next part was cool since they managed to invite this one pro acrobat lady to do some really cool tricks. Then Bernice Liu came out, dancing and singing. Cool. Suitable for the theme. She was so glamorous. Okay, the contestants had to use the objects given to describe one another. They were divided into pairs, of course. I loved Alan and Hacken! They were so funny, arguing with each other like that instead of asking the questions, LOL. Bernice changed again to continue the song–or at least until the next sets of contestants came out. Watching the contestants try to find some compliments to praise each other with the objects given was too funny! At least they were improving. OR it seemed to get a tad better than having them answering trivial questions. Bernice changed again! Whoa! That was fast. Anyway, still cool.

Okay, the next part of questioning–more trivial questions, LOL. There were three sets of questions–middle school, high school, and college. (OR something like that.) If they answered correctly, they would advance one step up. If not, they would be lowered one level. The questioning would start at their current educational level. The contestants changed outfits again. Nice outfits, LOL. I think the contestants were better in these set of questions since they were more used to the straight fact question/answer than the critical thinking ones. At least it was reassuring on some level since it would be more encouraging to watch. Shirley did slightly better in this one.

The next part was a really cute yet entertaining story. Aaron Kwok and Coco Lee. (I was a bit surprised that they were able to invite Coco to participate.) Aaron got to sing his “Para Para” song! LOL! (This sort of solved my question with why Aaron wasn’t opening before. This was more fun.)

Anyway, after that, we got to witness the contestants sing and dance with 60 children. The children were so cute! (I don’t know, I just didn’t care as much for the contestants regardless of how much they improved for this round.)

They were trying to do it differently this year. Getting rid of three at a time until they reached the top 5. Don’t know it would come to that but I guess it was something to keep people tune in. Hacken was so funny!

Eric’s return. Awww…Alan was subbing for Eric. Just when Eric returned, they made him be the bad guy to eliminate three contestants, LOL. Still funny. What was Hacken looking at, kept staring at Eric’s head? So funny that Eric was reassuring the others to come back next year, LOL.

More questionings. They were given a statement and then they had to pick if they agreed with the phrase or not. Then they had to argue for or against it. Alan was too funny! He lost during the first time! He and Hacken were cracking me up! Hacken was saying how Alan was only the witness and did not have to input. It got even funnier when they were attempting to translate for this one contestant. Then Alan translated before she was even finished. Natalis was poking at Alan for it. (Actually, he was pretending to talk about Alan with Hacken, LOL.) Man, it was way funnier watching the hosts argue. Man, Natalis’ comment!

They invited Anne to help with determining who had beautiful skin? Shirley got it. I guess the judges were careful and inspected everything so no complaints.#3, #9, and #18 got the creativity prize since they were able to impress the judges with their cooking skills and creativity.

I totally forgot that Jacky was in here! Cool! I guess it wouldn’t be complete without him. Jacky and Kelly Chen? OKAY…but for all the fun of it. Funny ending since he was just dreaming and his wife (portrayed by Kelly) was rousing him up. So much for it…(LOL) Again, save the best for last, right? Since it was supposed to be the last performance before they eliminated three more. But the top 12 got to return so they could announce the ‘most improved’ prize and the Miss International Goodwill. #4 got ‘most improved’ and #6 got Miss International Goodwill. Not bad. I don’t know. Somehow they looked better around this time.

Alan, Hacken, and Natalis were arguing over who should sing for the last part? But they ended up using the dancing routines to determine who was the top 4. At least they didn’t have to argue. That was interesting that Johnson Lee was one of the ones holding the sign up when they were answering the last round of questions. #2 and #3 got eliminated after that.

The ones who were eliminated had to come out and tell us who they supported to be the winner. #6 got third place, #4 got second, and of course, Shirley got first. Not bad. NOT the best of all time, but I guess it will have to do.

Miss Hong Kong 1998

The hosts for this year were Eric Tsang, Lawrence Cheng, and Bobby Au Yeung. The year that it started to deteriorate. Trust me, the hairstyles the contestants were wearing at the beginning were enough to turn everyone off. The stylists should be fired. Even if the contestants weren’t that pretty, the make-up artists and the stylists made it even worse. It was hard to swallow and took a lot of energy to continue watching. Jacky was one of the judges so it was something to look forward to. NOT to mention we would get to see him perform later. (Gallen Lo was also among the judges.) Must agree with the result that #6 was the best among the first group since her answer was the strongest. I swear I don’t know what half of them were saying. Worth millions of yawns. I was waiting for the questioning parts to be over so I could listen to some of the songs, lol. Eric was the hardest, Lawrence was minimal, and Bobby was the easiest. The short version? If one couldn’t pass Bobby, one doesn’t deserve to be there. Eric’s comment regarding the quality of beauty that year! LOL! I must agree though. #13 – I don’t like her but must admit she was the smoothest among all the second group who answered. #14 was WAY off-topic. She was so stuck up that I didn’t pity her at all when Lawrence was picking on her. #17 was standing at the wrong place! LOL! #20 got killed by Lawrence! My gosh! Eric was so funny! He said if he was #20, he would’ve slapped Lawrence already! LOL! #19 won for that group with the best answer. Agreed since Anne got creamed major time!

They moved on, but Eric and Lawrence were trapping Bobby with questions! LOL! Okay, entertainment part. Sort of since this year, they had to use some of their artists. The girls were divided into four groups. Michael Tse performed with the first group and then the contestants had to talk about different strengths of Hong Kong. The first group talked about the economy of Hong Kong and their experiences. The second group performed with Halina Tam. (I didn’t recognize her. Strange…) The second group of contestants talked about toys and their personal experiences. Eason Chan was leading the third group. This group talked about electronics. Hawick Lau wrapped up the performances with the fourth group. The last group talked about jewelry. This was definitely a sign of TVB using artists internally and not being able to invite outside guests as much anymore. (OR at least they were trying to cut back on inviting mega-stars, LOL.)

Anne Heung won over the contestants with the last performance. Not a surprise since she seemed to shine out the most among all the contestants–regardless of the horrendous make-up and styling. Anyway, it was funny that Lawrence said Jacky was the best ’cause he didn’t wait for Lawrence to open the envelope. (LOL!) Jacky was the most courteous all right.

The contestants were then changed into different outfits designed by four famous designers and was led by four different gentlemen. Ben Wong led the first group! (I almost forgot that one!) Marco Ngai led the third group. Anne won again for this round.

Okay, moving onto pre-recorded performances that showed they’d traveled to different places. Who performed during these scenes? Edmond Leung, Mariam Yeung, and Nicholas Tse. The girls looked better in these scenes. Probably because the horrendous hairstyle was gone already. And then the performers were brought on stage.

Eric was trying to sneak into the judges’ panel and pry the answers out of their mouths! LOL! Nancy Sit was telling Jacky to keep quiet! Hilarious! At least there was something to look forward to.

By this time, I wasn’t surprised that Anne kept winning. New method to know who got in. I guess they needed something to create some hype for the show. Each of the hosts led a contestant one at a time and had them placed their ticket into the machine. They either got a ‘Welcome’ or a ‘Sorry’. Eric = sure win, Lawrence = NO WAY, Bobby = mixed. (Well, only 1 slipped with Eric’s guidance, LOL. Good enough! Lawrence got one in, lol. Poor Lawrence. YET #14 got in. Darn! Why didn’t Lawrence jinx her too? She was seriously stuck up!) Eric was so smart, he led Anne since she had been winning so it was easy to say, “If you lose, I won’t host the pageant anymore.”

The second part’s theme was International. The best part was having Jacky opened the performance. What could go wrong, right? Something else that was encouraging–they got rid of that weird hairstyle at the beginning. That was horrendous all right. After the contestants told us about their supposedly ‘goal/wish’, Jacky came out to wrap up the performance once again.

Natalis Chan replaced Bobby Au Yeung and Philip replaced Lawrence in this part. Great to have Philip back! (Eric even welcomed Philip back personally.) After the brief talk, Jacky was back with his hit song “頭髮亂了“.

They ended up doing the theme with different continents. And Africa was first. Ekin Cheng performed first. The contestants looked slightly better in these types of costumes but still…some couldn’t even change my opinion regardless. I liked the next part more. Eric was trying to talk and then he spotted Natalis and Philip filling out the forms, saying stuff about him, LOL. They said it was only a sample! (LOL!)

Asia was the next stop after the random talk. Pretty cool since the contestants were in various oriental outfits. Definitely TVB’s attempt to recruit new artists since they were tested with the voice among other things. Andy Hui was the main singer for this one. He had to change into several outfits, considering it was relevant for different regions of Asia.

They moved onto the swimsuit part and like usual, they would squeeze in the questioning part. #1 seriously got straight to the point. She was definitely jealous of Anne, wanting Anne to disappear. Eric got her big time all right, exposing her intention and all. #6 got guts. Man, I can’t believe she would resort to those methods. Okay, it was getting worse and worse. One of the contestants didn’t even get what Eric was saying. They need to filter out these people. Not understanding the language fully and participating? Seriously? (I know I can’t have a say but probably any country would want someone who is fluent in their language.) Man, I loved Eric’s mocking and Philip’s constant stabs. Philip hasn’t lost it at all. In fact, he was entertaining the audience more than the contestants could ever impress with the answers. By the time it got to #17, though her answer should be considered minimal, I thought she was the best thus far, not stepping past the lines. Yay! Agree that #17 should get the prize since she had the best answer. Anne was all right but #17 had to think more to word it correctly and/or appropriately.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the same without a skit from Eric and Natalis. Almost forgot that Jordan Chan was also in this one. Cool! Once again, the girls looked better during the shoot for the scenes outside. Not sure what happened. (Some of them still look so-so but most of them somehow look less unattractive.) Funny that he was dreaming! LOL!

Another highlight of the show (though most of the performances from the guests were great) was the part where Andy was portraying the prince who was in love with his servant. (The servant was of course portrayed by the previous Miss Hong Kong since it was like a tradition to have the previous Miss Hong Kong participate in some scene and/or story.) A nice and cute story. (It would’ve been perfect if #14 wasn’t hugging the camera so much! Gosh, get a grip girl!)

Eric, Philip, and Natalis were back at backstabbing each other. They were a riot. Moving on (again…), the contestants got to show their talents in different sports. (Sort of like Olympics theme.)

Seriously? #14 is Miss Goodwill? Honestly? Seriously? She looked like she wanted to challenge half of the world. But I guess it passed already and nothing happened so never mind. Doesn’t matter anymore. At least she wasn’t in the top 5.

I so forget that Aaron and Sammi were also in here! Seriously? How could I forget? But I guess it was kind of long… Another cool performance.

Umm…before they announced the top #5, Anne managed to snatch another award! AND of course, #1 must be even more jealous and feeling beyond threatened by now.

Top 5 (as announced): #9, #20, #19, #6, #17

The funniest part and probably tough–since they had to answer to the criticisms written on the forms.

#6 – Darn…she dived right out of that one…

#9 – She managed fine BUT I must agree regarding how it was a pageant after all.

#17 – Cute! LOL!

#19 – She managed all right. So funny! Eric was so funny. At least she didn’t insult anyone.

#20 – Smart!

Yay! It wouldn’t be the same without Jacky closing the show up.

The results were too obvious. Though I prefer #17 to have one of the spots, I guess it wasn’t too bad.

Love Is Beautiful

This was probably one of TVB’s biggest mistakes. This also explained why Marianne Chan quit acting. Seriously, she had never been given any types of strong role or a role worth her talent. (Aside from Mu Lan and this other role.) Although both Marianne and Anne did a great job portraying their roles–before and after the switch–but the plot lacked big time in development. Everything seemed to repeat itself. The scriptwriters found it funny or entertaining to bring down the majority of the characters’ IQ or something. It seemed impossible not to notice after so many times, especially how Ling Wun kept falling for Chor Chor’s schemes. Yes, she had a kind heart, but she was so naive to the point of stupidity that made it so annoying. Aside from the ongoing of the repetitive events, there were actually some good things coming out of it though a little too late.

The second generation with their sons was much faster for some reason, considering both sons were quite intelligent and knew what it took to end it all. It was much better to watch in a sense rather than continuing to see Ling Wun fall for Chor Chor’s traps over and over again.

The majority of the cast did a good job portraying their roles. But again, if the speed were faster and the plot improved, it would’ve been more bearable and believable.

It was a bit funny to see Kenneth Ma and some of the actors being cameo though. Charmaine Sheh even got an appearance at the beginning of the series, which made it WAY too funny yet she was so cute that was so hard to hate (since she was portraying Chor Chor).

Posted (on Xanga): November 11, 2009

Re-posted: Tuesday, April 6th, 2010