I also watched this ages back but just didn’t review it yet. How was it? It actually started really strong and then died down like somewhere along the way–as often was with TVB series. Not saying it was terrible, but I thought they sort of ran out of ideas after a while and wanted to let Selena portray double roles so that was added to crank out more episodes. I like Selena, okay? I thought her portrayals were impressive, but I found the twins’ storyline unnecessary. So the point? It should have been like 20-25 episodes. Then it would have been perfect because it was actually one of the decent ancient series TVB produced for a while now.
Kenneth Ma as Chu Cheung Sing (朱長勝). Mixed feelings. I meant I like Kenneth and all and appreciated his effort put into the role. But I felt it was an easy win for him. Like there wasn’t anything special that he hasn’t done before in the past. His performance was consistent throughout and he led the audience through the story and convinced us he was that character. However, like I said, it wasn’t particularly challenging. He did as was expected of the role, nothing more. The character was all right. It was a typical smart-aleck character that later turned really dark because of the events of the plot. And oh yeah, he was already on thin lines with me yet what drove it further into insanity was how he criticized Kwan Chiu and didn’t trust her because of her past record YET asked to be forgiven for what he’d done? Well, it wasn’t his fault with the trap, but seriously, the others sure let him off easily for stuff.
Rosina Lin (林夏薇) as Yeung Lau (楊柳). I was surprised to like her character in here since I watched her in another series and felt annoyed with her. Looking back, it was possibly the general series itself and how it wasn’t well-written anyway, so the majority of the characters automatically became annoying, lol. But she did a nice job in here, portraying her feisty and witty character. She was very convincing in regard to her strong personality as well as her softhearted side–as the plot led us into at one point. She was my favorite female character in here because she represented the strong, intelligent female lead well. It actually did a character justice for once with strong characters and not steer toward some unnecessary element and ended up becoming disappointing. So, yes, I was glad that her character didn’t get ruin because of the twist of the later events of the overall story. Regarding the side romance story in the 1/3 way into the story, I forgave her. Because the other guy was too cunning. Who could blame her for being tricked? He was indeed a pro.
Pierre Ngo as Ngau Dai Lik (牛大力). It was interesting that Pierre got to be one of the main leads once again. It seemed like ages ago that he was. Just saying, lol. His character was so simple-minded. However, it was just that he was too hot-headed at times. Although he appeared rough or tried to be, he was really soft-hearted. Sure, he could be so impatient at times, but he wasn’t a coward at that. He just needed to settle down and be more patient when it came to figuring out the cases itself. He actually had some experiences doing his robber days, lol. So that wasn’t all for nothing. He was just too impatient and wanted to take actions more than sit around and think too much, that was all. I didn’t think that he was too dumb comparing to the rest of the group. However, it made his character different from the rest of them.
Power Chan as Ma Chuen Kung (馬川芎). The reason why I started to watch this in the first place was because Power’s character in another series mentioned it, lol. I knew about the series but didn’t want to watch it at that that time it came out, but yeah. Power’s AD got to me, lol. I do like Power, so of course, I checked it out for him. How was his character in here? Unlike his usual hot-headed roles, he was actually calm and somewhat composed in here. Well, he had this arrogance about him that was hard to endure for some characters in here. Yet it made sense because he came from generations of famous medics. It made sense he was proud of his ancestry and his achievements thus far. He did work super hard to get there. So why shouldn’t he, right? Somehow along the way, he managed to get along with everyone and they ended up forming this unbreakable bond, which was touching in a sense. What made me quite upset with him was how he decided to dictate his sister’s life just because he was the older brother. He kept forcing her to get married and all, not allowing her to choose her own path. Sure, he felt guilty and was trying to make up for not being there for her since ages ago. Yet, that wasn’t a good excuse. She almost married that one so-called “model” citizen and got herself killed if she didn’t pull those tricks. So, I guess, what I was trying to say was his overly traditional ways just rubbed me wrong. It gave off major controlling vibe and made him so unreasonable. Not to mention how I could just say he was just trying to get rid of her by marrying her off to some dude. I know it wasn’t, but the way he kept pushing was super annoying. And when I thought I was done with tearing his character apart, I found more. Yes, you would think I was done. But the part where the guys found out how Cheung Sing got Yan Mei Neong pregnant, he lectured Cheung Sing, which he had the right to because he cared. However, what he said along the way made me wanted to scream. He said it was all right that Cheung Sing “went out to play yet can’t invest real emotions into it” aka he approved cheating. Such a traditional type of thinking that made it infuriating. Yeah, you’re all like it fitted with the era because of their old views. But it was a never-changing element in series–regardless of ancient or modern backdrop–that made it ridiculous. He picked and chose what he wanted to follow, just like those scholars back then did. I’m not saying he was a terrible person, considering how he was a product of his time. Yet it was just something I can’t let it slide just because.
Raymond Cho as Hung Sup Kau (熊十九). OMG, it was hilarious that he acted all brave and tough and then ran when they tried to ask him some questions. He was also quite scared of blood. Everyone had their weaknesses, but he took it to another level with his fear. It was probably created for dramatic effect and/or humor. It was somewhat of a funny character for Ray. Not to mention a major role as well. Half of the stuff he did and said got me cracking up so hard at times. He was possibly responsible for a third of the humorous scenes in the series. Well, that was until his storyline got really serious and sad–like some of them–in here. This was actually one of the worth-watching roles for Ray. Because they allowed him to perform a more complex character than just some lines here and there and then be on his way again. He could be the comedic element to the plot as an overall yet also had his own storyline as well. He was sometimes too hot-headed, but also had this righteous streak in him that was hard to just ignore. I sort of forgave him for half of the stuff he did because of his background more versus how those so-called goody two shoes scholars who were supposed to be good yet crossed lines like no tomorrow and justified it at every turn.
Selena Li as Tou Fa (桃花) and Yan Mei Neong (殷媚娘). Like I said, her performances for both characters were impressive with showing us the differences between the sisters, etc. But it was not that necessary for her second role. Although it did carry some mysterious vibe, they didn’t have to dramatize everything and then killed off her first role just to have Kenneth’s character ended up with the second role. What is with people and their fantasy of being with twins? Yes, I said it. I’ve seen enough of those stories over the years that I’m sick and tired of the approach. They could have been twins and then have the same storyline with her being involved with the grand scheme at the end, but they could have edited out how she was also romantically involved with the same guy as her sister. Seriously? It reminded me of Into Thin Air, which they wasted time on the twins storyline as well, which ruined that series and dragged it out at the end. Although Tou Fa talked like she valued money, but she wasn’t the greedy type who took advantage of others. She knew what was hers and didn’t things without considerations. She was loud and stubborn yet her heart was just so soft at times, causing her to be taking advantage of. She was also forced into maintaining those stupid traditional values just because and it ended up reducing her role to a doormat. That was why it was even more frustrating to see her character die just like that. Yan Mei Neong somehow repented later yet I felt she sure was let off so easily. She harmed so many people and caused so much conflict yet did like one or two things before she was forgiven. Amnesia also aided greatly for her to have a start over. It also made the ending scene ten times more pathetic. And oh yeah, as I looked back for this review, I realized something. Her character could be an intense version of both Cau Yuet and Dong Yee. Why did I say that? Come on, that case was really small, but Dong Yee disregarded her good sisters’ warning and wanted to sold the info to the highest bidder. She was an immature compared to Yan Mei Neong , so obviously, she was brought down too easily. But the concept was still the same with wanting to sell information to get rich. The Cau Yuet element was, of course, the part that was romantically linked to Cheung Sing. However, Cau Yuet had more right to be around and making ruptures in Chueng Sing’s life than Yan Mei Neong. Because she was part of his past, come on. She was dubbed as a third-party because he was married already at that point YET the complexity of the past chapter made more sense if she were to show up and demand answers. Yet somehow, Mei Neong was forgiven and gotten a fresh start over? Well, we never did know what became the life of Cau Yuet except she left (and was fortunate enough to be a life and have afresh start), but I would rather they develop more to that story than tried to recrate that element in here and drag it out.
Lau Kong as Fun Nam Tin (鳳南天). Their all fierce leader, but could be quite soft-hearted at times too–when it came to their little group. However, it was revealed later that he had a hidden agenda. It sure threw me off all right. He was a secret agent for a rival country. So, that was a real kick all right. It made sense since Lau Kong wouldn’t portray such a tamed role in such an intense series. Of course, he had to take part in the final episodes to crank up the hype and also the force they needed to end the series on a high note.
Eric Li as Seh Bak Nin (佘百年). Trapped in a forever villain cycle, of course, he had to take on the villainous role once again, lol. Poor Eric. But I guess someone had to do it. However, that didn’t mean he slacked off on his acting. Although he was petty in many ways and was jealous of Cheung Sing, Eric brought out the character quite well, allowing the audience to see what type of struggles he was going through. The part where he thought he was doing his best to prove himself, but found out he was just a replacement for someone else was quite heartbreaking. He turned down many opportunities to stay behind, showing his loyalty to them yet couldn’t be compared to someone else who wasn’t around. It sure hurt. In a way, he wasn’t a typical villain as his usual role was with loving to torture others or a spoiled young master. It showed he had a life goal and somehow it showed his journey to going down a less than favorable path later on. Somewhata halfway complex villain since it showed his struggles at first yet totally sent him on a downward spiral that led to becoming a typical villain, getting rid of everyone who was in his path.
Candy Cheung as Ma Wan Ling (馬雲苓) / Kwan Chiu (關超). She rubbed me the wrong way from the start. I got it, she had a tough childhood and it made sense she became that way. But I didn’t have to like her. It somewhat improved later just because other elements in the story annoyed me more, lol, so she was let off.
Aurora Li as Mo (舞). At first, I thought it was kind of cool sto see another female agent among the group. I was all right with her competitive streak at times and her pride in her capabilities. After all, she did work hard for it. So, that wasn’t a turn off. However, she lost points with me after she made fun of Yeung Lau for being conned by the other dude. Because that was personal attack and pettiness that didn’t sit well with being a special agent. It made her gossipy and ridiculous. The irony? She also got conned by a man, and the worst part? She lost her life. To clarify, I wasn’t celebrating her death, just thought how funny in the most twisted way that her ending was even worse than she criticized others for.
Ram Chiang as Emperor Chiu Juk Hei (皇上趙旭熹). Goofy emperor role. I would say he was born in the wrong time. Because he was too simple-minded for such circumstances. Well, his heart was in the right place. But he just didn’t have what it took to rule over so many complex parties and their different agendas. If he had a great group of advisors, it could work. However, those were my initial optimistic point of view. Because this emperor sure deserved all the things done to him. Seriously, he was easily swayed and easily conned. He always fell into others’ traps yet never learned anything. He lacked critical thinking skills severely yet thought he was talented. He often listened to whoever he thought made sense, not thinking for himself. Sure, some traps were so elaborate and complex. Yet, I thought he would at least learn after some stuff he went through. Yet no, he just kept getting worse and worse. It took Yan Mei Neong’s secret message for him to turn around. Seriously. Even if he ended up faking his death to live a simple life at the end, I still couldn’t forgive him completely. But I guess it was about time he stepped down. He really wasn’t suitable to be a king regardless. It was better for him to have that little escape plan via Chuen Kung’s conspiracy.
Mary Hon as Empress Dowager Gung Shun Bik (太后公孫璧). I knew she was up to no good. Mary delivered flawlessly, of course. Was there ever doubt? She got it down. Whether it was the arrogance, the cunning nature, the royal air, she nailed it. She brought the character alive through her performance. Not to mention the turn around later that made it convincing. I guess in a way, she was just arrogant and wanted to rely on her family background to maintain her lavishing lifestyle. Because she didn’t approve of the fourth prince’s attempt to overthrow the useless king either. At least, not at first when she found out. Later, she showed legit concern for him, even if she didn’t have to.
Cheung Kwok Keung as Fourth Prince Chiu Chun Dhun (四王爺趙存端). No surprise he had to be the evil character again, lol. It just felt a bit repetitive. But he did well. At first, I was rolling my eyes at his list of excuses to snatch the crown for himself. Yet by the time the ending conflicts rolled around, I realized how right he was. The other dude wasn’t suitable to be king at all, only knew how to play and stuff, not taking things seriously. So, of course, I didn’t blame him when he said he didn’t want to help. Why should he? The real reason was, he was already carrying out secret missions via his extensive network. He was just messing around with Chuen Kung when Chuen Kung sought him out for help. It was hilarious really. Come on, no one got hurt, right? It was also strange how they were all uniting to fight outside forces near the end. And somehow, he got his wish with becoming the king at long last. Yet it seemed like he also learned a cold, hard lesson after having at the temple for a while. It gave him a lot of time to reflect while he was away from all that power.
Law Lok Lam as Hung Fung (熊峰). Hung Sup Kau’s father. I felt bad for him. His son kept blocking his path whenever he scored some big deal or was going to engage in some side business, lol. He was one of my favorite characters in here because he wasn’t fake. He might be rouge, hot-headed, slick with his moves to stay under the radar, whatever. But at least, he didn’t act all goody-two shoes either. Half of his businesses around town showed his power and his influence. Yet he actually showed up when it mattered.
Yoyo Chen as Cau Yuet (秋月). Chu Cheung Sing’s ex-lover. I do feel bad for her. Seriously, how many times did she have to get conned? If one looked at the current situation, one would say she was despicable to try to get together with a married man. However, that was her history, her past with him. She thought she had a second chance–after her tragedies–to reunite with the one she loved. However, she was used as a pawn to solve a case. I thought that she was brushed aside so easily and the scriptwriters downplayed the situation major time just to excuse the main guy’s behaviors. If anyone wanted to have some type of love triangle in here, her character was it. Possibly put in the struggle of seeing a past lover again and his love for his wife, NOT conjuring up the twins sisters fantasy with that triangle at the end. However, the writers just decided it was a good idea to use Cau Yuet and acted like she was the problem. Yoyo isn’t on my top list of a favorite actress, but seriously, the writers did her character an injustice that I couldn’t let go hence affecting my opinions of other characters as well, namely the main couple.
Charmaine Li as Dong Yee (冬兒). He killed her supposed “good sister” because she wanted to sell the country’s secret for money instead of handing it over to the proper channels thus helping the country. It was indeed scary. Well, we all need money to live, but she sure took it to another level. Even if she didn’t care for the country or whatever, she could have considered her good sister and all they’ve been through together. Instead, she chose to betray them for a little money.
Jess Sum as Chun Mui (春梅).
Kibby Lau as Ha Lin (夏蓮).
Iva Law as Lee Gwai Lan (李桂蘭).
Matthew Ko as Chu Yuk Lau (朱玉樓). I thought it was all downward for him at this point. It was like there was a time when had more favorable roles. Yet now he was back to portraying despicable smaller characters. Acting wise, I thought he had already made some sort of progress, not so wooden like he once did with his old vicious roles, so I guess it wasn’t really a miss. His character? I already suspected him when he browsed the brothels. Yeah, judging him. But if he was indeed a poor scholar trying to make a name for himself, why was he visiting brothels? He had to focus on his studies and much more. That detail stuck out like a sore thumb. When I watched it for the first time, I thought perhaps, they were trying to mimic another element of those classic stories about scholars meeting an artisan or something. Yet it was soon revealed that he was just some despicable person who thrived on his cons. It actually fitted with pointing out those fake individuals who were good at disguising themselves.
Raymond Chiu as Dai Ho Yan (戴浩仁). One of the suitors that Chuen Kung set up for Kwan Chiu. I thought he just had a very small role since they were just playing tricks on him to get him to back off, etc. However, he became a key character in a case later on. He sure was creepy all right. I just thought that he was one of those typical spoiled, arrogant kid. However, he was so cruel, ruthless even, willing to go to the extreme for his greed and selfishness. Appearing in such a brief case, he performed well, carrying through that character with the right touch.
Sam Tsang as Chan Gut (陳吉) and Chan Lei (陳利). Another pair of twins for the story. Chen Gut was a conman who posed as a Taoist and was in conspiracy with the empress dowager and the fourth prince in order to dethrone the king by making it look like the king was superstitious and unreasonable, etc. I haven’t watched Sam in an ancient series for a while now and at first, I felt it was such a shame he had to portray such a role. But once again, I guessed someone had to do it, so yeah. It was obvious he ran a cult-like religious group and attempted to influence the citizens through cheap tricks and deception. His unrealistic principles and commandments made it so obvious that he was up to no good. Chuen Kung was right that only the weak-minded were susceptible to his schemes. Then as the plot moved forward and how Sam got an opportunity to portray double roles as well, that cranked my interest up a bit. Chen Lei, unlike his twin brother, was just a normal person who lived a simplistic life by working hard. It was revealed that he knew of his brother’s deeds but did not interfere. He was later tracked down and forced to help them with exposing his brother.
Aaryn Cheung as Hak Ci (客似).
Johnathan Cheung as Prince of Jurchen Kingdom (金國太子).
Jimmy Au as General Fu Man (撫蠻將軍). He was in charge of the cannon ammunition. He only appeared in the last part of the series but played a major role in turning the events around to their advantage.
Relationships – family, friends, romances, etc.:
Kenneth/ Chu Cheung Sing and Selena/ Tou Fa. I only acknowledge this couple–even though both characters were portrayed by Selena. Because like I said above, I don’t care for writers’ attempt to fulfill twins’ fantasy once again. That means, in my mind, I edited out that part when thinking of this series if I ever go back to watch it again. Anyway, Kenneth and Selena proved their chemistry as they portrayed husband and wife this time. Both were hilarious in their roles and matched very well. They weren’t just a typical silly couple. That was just the surface. They supported each other through different trials. Yet still learned to maintain a positive attitude each time. That was until the writers went crazy and decided to introduce other formulas into it to tear them apart (aka killing her). She seemed silly on the surface, but understood him very well and actually supported him in returning to become an agent for the special agency. She knew he loved doing that, so encouraged him on. It was obvious that he loved her dearly and would do anything to protect her.
Pierre/Ngau Dai Lik and Rosina/ Yeung Lau. They were surprisingly an interesting pairing. I enjoyed watching their scenes together. I guessed they represented the bickering couple in here. Because at first, they didn’t really get along, clashing at almost every circumstance. The only reason why they hadn’t killed each other yet was because they needed to cooperate in order to complete their missions. It wasn’t like they always fought. Because when it came to the most important matters, they had the same mentality. So that helped them with achieving their goals. Or like that one time when they all kept the secret with the others in regard to that one couple eloping.
Kenneth, Rosina, Piere, and Power as a team. I really liked seeing them work together. First, they clashed and all. Yet they learned that each and every one of them had a righteous streak in them, so they took that as a good sign and worked more smoothly together. They all learned and grew throughout the events of the stories and cases and eventually becoming almost like family. Their bonds were convincing as the story unfolded with different events happening throughout.
Law Lok Lam/Hung Fung and Raymond Cho/ Hung Sup Kau as father and son. It was hilarious to watch to them. They couldn’t be more different. Sup Kau was sooo naive regarding the different deals his father had been carrying on. He thought it was so simple, but that was far from the truth. He had a righteous heart yet seemed to be born on the wrong side hence kept sabotaging his father’s efforts by accident. I sort of felt bad for the father, lol. All in all though, I enjoyed their strange father and son relationship. Both were equally stubborn, so I guess they had that as a similar trait yet it wasn’t a good one to both have, considering how extreme it could get with their arguments.
Cases. The variety of cases were interesting enough to keep the series going and allowed us to understand the characters more and more through their interactions with others or how they approached the events throughout.
Humor. The light jokes here and there cushioned some of the seriousness of the events. However, I thought only the side jokes from some characters made it bearable while others could be too much at times. If only they kept it somewhat consistent with some characters instead of trying to put everything in the mix. It felt somewhat bloated at times. So yeah.
Twins sisters’ love triangle element. Yes, I had to placed it in here as well and continue my petty rants, lol. Again, like I said above, I was fine with Yan Mei Neong being there and her involvement in the major plot later on. I just didn’t like the repetitive formula of having them being involved with the same guy–like many past series had approached it. Just stop it already. It had already been done to death. If I didn’t know better, I would say one of the writers had an eye for his sister-in-law hence using this opportunity to write such a twist in here to fulfill his fantasy. Yes, they (the writers) placed the formula in here, so don’t blame me for thinking that.
The importance of having children. Seriously, typical plot formula with forcing couples to have kids just because some bloodline stuff. Although it was more realistic with placing in this bit, considering how it was in the ancient times after all. However, it made for a major turn off for me. I rather they had kids because the wanted kids and NOT because of some duty or obligation they had to fulfill. It would have been even better if for once, they didn’t want kids and were fine with it than forcing the whole concept through. It was just a typical formula that continued to define marriage as an overall and women’s roles in general. (Despite Kwan Chiu’s hidden agenda, she was right when she questioned her so-called “brother” about a woman’s role and what they could and could not do. Granted, it was the ancient times YET she broke past the barriers with her questions.) Well, it was just pure entertainment so I shouldn’t be so bitter about it. But it was a shame that no matter, TVB could never break out of the mold. Also, this was the other reason why I hated that the twins having a link to one guy. Because it seemed like it was compensating for the main guy by giving him a kid later on, just like he wanted thus reducing the second twin role to nothing more than an incubator. Yes, I said it. I’m so done. I just didn’t see the point. Why can’t the writers just leave the story at that after Cheung Sing proved that he didn’t care for the baby thing and somehow they just found their way back to one another? Or just plain scrap that storyline altogether since they couldn’t commit with addressing the no baby situation.
Ripped off of Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber formula. I’m talking about how Yan Mei Neong made Chu Cheung Sing promised to do three things for her. Seriously, it wasn’t like Jin Yong invented it with the whole making promises thing. But he made it famous through his works. It continued to repeat through various series already. But because of how overused it had become, it made me even more annoyed hence it gave me even more ammo to attack the plot in general.
Assassins turned special agency theme. I read somewhere regarding how it was supposed to be a group of assassins instead of special guards. They actually filmed the promo clip as such. However, it was changed into a similar format as the four great detective guards that Wen Rui An created. Although the current story was considered decent, it was a shame that they couldn’t go with the original theme. Because the four detective guards type of plotline had already been portrayed numerous times already. It would have been interesting to see a group of assassins being the highlight of the series. Talking about the inspiration of the four detective guards, I found it funny that the four main characters were crippled by circumstances near the end yet it took Hung Fung to take some actions within his group. The point? Law Lok Lam portrayed Leng Xue in the ATV version of the four great detective guards, lol. In fact, he was my favorite Leng Xue till this day. No one else had lived up to it, only close second, but that was about it. Well, Hung Fung wasn’t the mastermind behind it, but at least, they needed his group to help as far as resources were needed.
The irony of getting rid of the fourth prince and then needing to seek him out later. Anyone seen that one coming? Well, the first time around I watched, of course I didn’t. But I had to laugh at it when watching the second time around, realizing what was going on. The impact of the later events made it seemed like so tamed with the fourth prince’s schemes.
The ending. Halfway satisfied actually. Regarding the royal conflicts and various power grabs, it wrapped up fine. The dissatisfaction was obviously coming the fact that the writers killed Tao Fa and turned the romance part regarding Cheung Sing into a joke. So, by that time, I only cared about Yeung Lau and Dai Lik.
Recommended? Once again, I think if you like the main cast, you would love it. And of course, no one is as stingy as like me to notice some stuff, so I think it was a success overall. Hey, I actually watched it a second time to do this review. So, that said something.
If only I watched this series much earlier. Because this was actually one of the good ones in the past ten years regarding TVB series. I guess it was just that when I tried to dive into a series for the sake of Michael Miu, he was portraying some less than favorable character–or it was same old, same old. I didn’t feel there was a challenge for him. Even if he was in that one series with Felix Wong. Unlike some of the past series he was in since he returned, I felt like this was much more up to his par. Aside from that, the plot of this series was decent enough that it didn’t contain those characters that were just too good to be true aka unrealistic. This was a true gray areas series that got you thinking at times more than the tired same old you must let your enemies stomp on you left and right to be considered a good person, so yeah. I was surprised and glad that it stayed consistent throughout. Sure, there were corny moments, but it was just there to buffer the intensity of the main plot.
Michael Miu as Cheuk Hoi (卓凱). Once again, this was one of those series of Michael’s since his return to TVB that I felt was worth it. The last I tried to watch of him was My Better Half with Maggie Cheung. I did like their chemistry together but didn’t like where the story was going, so I dropped it. I even dropped Gun Metal Grey, so there were was that. (Side Note: I felt Gun Metal Grey was just using him and Felix to promote the new generation SO it was a rip-off and not meant to be a Felix and Michael reunion at all, so I didn’t even bother to continue. Although I did like both of their portrayals and his chemistry with Jessica Hsuan in there. Yeah, it ties in with what I said above regarding Michael’s repetitive roles of the past few years.) Anyway, this one gave his character not only capabilities but some depth. He wasn’t a goody-two-shoes at times either. Sure, he wasn’t going to resort to the extreme or lose his head in situations (because of his experiences over the years) but he wasn’t going to sit in a jail cell and rot either. He knew he needed to get out and use his wide networks and resources to get answers. It made him more flexible and realistic than say some typical recent main character TVB often drew up. So yes, I felt Michael had more to work with and try to shape the character more. He, of course, had times when he was unsure of what to do or if he was being a good handler to the others, but he never lost his goal. He felt like he failed Bao Seed when he couldn’t reason with the latter but he knew he had to continue on. And I so fell for it when I thought he might be bad, lol. Not in the sense that the others thought. But I had a feeling like he was hiding something. Totally exuding the Yang Hong vibe at that moment, lol. Like was he really a good guy or nah, lol. But it was the part where he was all like trying really hard to nail Bao Seed. I thought his going to prison later had to do with him finally losing it because in trying to stop Bao Seed, he lost his head. That would be some major twist for the show all right. But it was all an act and we could see another level of acting with Michael himself but also his character as an undercover agent. He was showing them all his capabilities and why he was their handler, not just always sitting behind a desk to enjoy the AC–as some would put it. He was the real deal and he got the experience to back it up. It was a good turnaround all right.
Charmaine Sheh as Ding Siu Ka (丁小嘉) aka Ding Jie (釘姐). I think her character in here was a mixture of the characters in Angels of Mission and When Heaven Burns. Yes, the cop identity and how her humor reminded me of Angels of Mission and the goth appearance reminded me of When Heaven Burns. However, the similarities only ended there. Because the events of the plot development led on to other parts of her character that were more complicated. The trials and tribulations she went through shaped who she became later on. In fact, it was a test for her. Her most traumatizing scene must be at the hospital and learning that her adopted mothers had all passed away after that tragic event. It was so frightening and it shook her world to the core. Charmaine brought out that scene really well. Who could imagine? Her safe zone got breached and torn apart just like that. All in all, this was a character worth it for Charmaine fans who wanted to see her in more challenging roles.
Raymond Lam as Suet Ka Keung (雪家強) aka Bao Seed (爆Seed). I haven’t watched anything of his in a long, long time although I know he could act. I seriously miss it. But it was because I didn’t like any of the themes or cast he was involved in for the longest time. Sad, but true. I was glad to finally have a role of his that I liked in here and could actually look forward to seeing the sequel when he comes back again. Yes, I went and hunt down some news just out of curiosity and realized they made two more installments–aside from the movies. (Yeah, I’m that behind on TVB-related series and/or movies because I can block it out if I don’t care for it.) Anyway, he showed some acting depth in here. The character was full of layers and he totally delivered at each stage of the plot development. It was addicting to watch what else he was capable of and how his character evolved. It went on many layers of emotional rollercoasters and explored why he took to the extreme with his actions in the name of justice.
Sammy as Lin Ho Kan (連浩勤) / Kobe. I actually quite liked him after watching some series that he was just some minor character. So I was glad to see him being a bigger part of the plot throughout. I enjoyed his character and his stories throughout. He sure got what it took to be an agent. Sure, he had his vulnerabilities and his worries at times, it was understandable and very real, considering how and what they had to deal with on daily basis. It was indeed really scary. What got me really mad was giving him that tumor. Seriously? The writers need to lay off the Korean soaps for a bit and steer it back onto the topic or something. I was really frustrated that he wasn’t able to stick it through to the final battle. Sure, he helped a lot while struggling to survive. Yet, I felt they’d taken him out of the game with the tumor on purpose. It made everything so antidramatic in that sense because he’d been there from the start. Now he’s out of the game? I liked the other characters too, but I felt he needed to be there front and center with the others. I welcome some new changes to the plot and not so typical outcomes, but this was pushing it for a cop versus gangsters series.
Sharon Chan as Mok Sin Yan (莫羨昕). I had mixed feelings for her when she first appeared. Partially biases because she kept stalking Cheuk Hoi and making it like he was a criminal. However, I tried to step back and see it from her point of view. She was just doing her job and indeed was just cautious. She was at least consistent in her principles and goals. She loved Kobe dearly but tried to keep a level head or at least tried to move on. Her professionalism was also shown throughout. She was always strong and stuck through it, not caring if she lost her job over some publicity game her bosses were playing. She found another way to help others, not just by being a face to the public only. So yes, her principles and consistency were what I loved about her character. Back to Sharon in the acting department though. I mean I think at times she stepped backward and forward. I think I could say she had improved in her old days, but I feel she was still stuck in the same phases at times that she couldn’t pull out of.
Benz Hui as Chum Foon Hei (潭關喜). I thought he was going to be a typical gangster that they would bust and then that was it. But it wasn’t so. Sure, he was always smiling (duh, his name, lol), but he could be so ruthless and chilling in many ways. Yet I didn’t think the writers would prop up Benz Hui in this series and even spanning it into two more installments. It was crazy to imagine but this was one of Benz’s amazing roles since whenever. I’m not praising or rooting for gangsters here. But I think plot-wise and characterization, it was really well written with the complexity of his character and how Benz brought forth with his portrayal throughout. You’re scared of him and you know he could carry out a lot of crazy schemes. But you could also laugh with him or cry with him even. For a gangster boss, he was sure relatable in many ways. Of course, I never doubted Benz’s acting since I grew up watching him, lol. But I was surprised TVB could allow the writers to shape his character so that it has become the highlight of the show. Considering how TVB always used veteran actors to prop up their latest batch of newbies. (I don’t hate new people, I just hate TVB politics at times. Also, again, totally poking at Gun Metal Grey.)
Oscar Leung as Cheung Muk Wing (張木榮) aka Muk Sat (木蝨). I swear, I thought he would make it till the end. I didn’t read spoilers or tried not to, so I didn’t realize he was going to be sacrificed as well. It made sense, but still not any less tragic. His death sort of united them as the golden three again, but also fused Bao Seed’s anger even more. He wanted to do something big but didn’t realize how far or how deep things could get with all sides fighting each other and he was caught up in it. It was a surprise that the scriptwriters made it that he liked Ding Jie, but whatever, it wasn’t like a major focus or anything. Once again, Oscar delivered his role convincingly.
Patrick Tang as Yip Siu Leung (葉兆良) / Marco. Head of OCTB and was often seen to be in disagreements with Cheuk Sir. It was revealed he was much more involved in the grand scheme than what was let on the surface with his constant rivalry with Cheuk Sir. I never really liked Patrick that much in the past, so this one made it easier to hate him, lol. That probably also meant he had improved in his acting. It would be hard if he hadn’t, lol. But seriously, have to give him credit for making the character despicable enough. The plot didn’t have to make him the mole as well, I already hated him before because he was being a huge asshole to Yan and how he pretended not to care YET had sought out revenge against others and eventually lashing out at her. Of course, he went to the extreme and it later revealed another side of him. I just initially thought that he was just corrupt and didn’t care if he crossed a line to win over Cheuk Sir. I meant everyone crossed the line one way or another at times in here. No one was a saint either way, especially if they wanted to survive when they were going undercover. But his disturbing actions off-work made it harder to like him, especially of his controlling behaviors toward Yan–as stated before. So, yeah, that was a little twist that he was also involved. I was just glad his character and/or story arch didn’t drag out until the end. That would be torture. The writers wanted to focus on the big picture, so it made sense to navigate toward letting the other characters see how big the scale was with the influences the latest gang had in society in general.
Lau Kong as Kwok Hok Wah (郭學華). I think I overlooked him, sort of. Because I drew the connection with him being Cheuk Sir’s master and how well they got along. Okay, I was more focused on the fact that they were father and son in The Legend of the Condor Heroes ’83, lol. It was hard not to see the connection, lol. Aside from that, I thought it was cool that they were collaborating on a grand scale in here. Okay, I might have suspected if he was in on it because after I wasn’t really paying attention to Yip Sir, thinking he was just a typical asshole, he turned out to be a mole. I wondered if Kwok knew about it, considering how higher up he was and it seemed like Yip Sir managed to get away with a lot of stuff. So yeah, that was when I suspected him.
Elena Kong as Mok Sin Ching (莫羨晴) / Katie. I was a bit taken aback when she first appeared. No, it wasn’t Elena, lol. I knew she was in there. But based on the main theme, she was involved in the court scenes, so I just didn’t expect her story to start from there. It made sense later and I was glad she was able to pull out of such a tragic situation–with some help from Cheuk Sir. I was also glad that they developed her story even more before allowing her to move on with more romance, which I will elaborate on below in the relationships section. Obviously, I had watched Elena since she was with ATV and loved her performances–regardless of roles. So, no complaints about her acting.
Law Lok Lam as Kwok Teng (郭正). I swear, I didn’t expect him to be involved as well. I meant, I thought he was just there as a side development to Katie’s story. It made sense for her to return to work and face challenges that would test her professionalism and her sense of justice. Yet his character had taken up another level. Yup, he sure was good at the innocent act all right. It made sense with the schemes they were in. They wouldn’t want to draw attention, just acting normal for the majority of the time.
Stephen Huynh as Pong Yin Ting (龐彥廷). He appeared later in the story but was a major character that shouldn’t be overlooked. He was indeed a strong opponent, which made a lot of sense because he was one of the masterminds. It would be a joke if he wasn’t always so cautious of his actions and be suspicious of those around him.
Samantha Ko as Lam Hei Mei (林希微) / Amy. I suspected from the start regardless of the fact that she turned out to be another undercover cop or not. She was too suspicious. I was glad they sprung a trap for her later and wasn’t too blinded by the fact that she was also a cop that they overlooked that bit.
Skype Chan as Tse On Yee (謝安儀) / Ada. Omg, I sorta suspected her and I felt so guilty for it, lol. Well, trigger response, but half of the population were suspicious at one time or another. You just never know with them. But seriously, she was a very cautious person and managed to aid Yan a lot while she was part of the team and was still alive. I thought she would survive till the end. Like she would somehow escape or fight back. But Yip Sir was indeed experienced with his routine and was prepared, so it had to be that way. She, of course, wouldn’t go down without putting up a good fight–and even left them some clues as well. Another tragic death and a character worth mentioning.
Toby Leung as Chiu Mei Yin (趙美賢) aka Yin Chai (賢仔). Cheuk Sir’s niece and also worked under his department. She was quite hot-headed at times when dealing with others. However, some of her anger wasn’t irrational. It showed her righteousness. She was all right I guess. She was just doing her job and possibly even more. I’m no longer sure if she still gets the heat for stuff, but I guess it’s a good idea to keep her out of the limelight for now, lol. This was years ago, but still.
Jimmy Au as Hong To Hang (康道行). The unlucky person who was killed off at the end of the first episode. Well, he had to die for the chain of events to unleash. But still, that was a shame not being able to see more of him. Although brief, I really liked his collaboration with Michael and how their characters were friends and understood one another’s mentality. They joked at times and also managed to give one another advice when the time called for it.
Chung King Fai as Chin Sui On (錢瑞安). So, he was the real mastermind. It was seriously full of twists and turns to see how it turned out. It took Cheuk Sir going undercover to unearth that one. Many people could see how innocent and harmless he looked, so that was a good twist. But it made sense with the number of people involved that he would have anything to do with it as well.
Sam Tsang as Lok Kei (骆祺) / LK. A lawyer. He was seen at times representing some people and was also a strong rival of Katie in the courtroom. However, I wasn’t too sure how much he knew. Probably not enough to get him killed? That they only needed his legal knowledge and what he could do at times? But he did give that weapon to Kwok Hok Wah, which he hid under the table, so I doubted that he was that oblivious to things.
Cheung Kwok Keung as Sum Kam (崇金). A rival of Chum Foon Hei who came back for revenge. He was sure scary and sure was crazy enough to measure up to Chum’s scale. However, he wasn’t cunning enough to win.
Ankie Beilke as On Lam (安琳) / Amrin. She was a very tragic character. I didn’t like her at first because duh. But seriously, I sympathized with her later, how her adopted father went through to keep her under control and used her for his revenge schemes. Her death was one of the most tragic in here and shook everyone involved to the core. It showed us once again that death was expected when involved in such a situation. We, as the viewers, thought she could finally escape and broke free of that horrible past. However, she chose to return to help and eventually lost her life.
Relationships/ Friendships/ Romances, etc
Michael Miu and Elena Kong. Surprisingly addicting to watch. I liked that their relationship started slow and then turning into romance. It wasn’t rushed or too forced, trying too hard to convince us. He accidentally discovered her domestic violence situation and couldn’t stay out of it. I mean, who could? Then he tried to help her and his investigation had led to an even more shocking discovery. Well, on some levels, she probably knew, but she was trying hard to stick around for her ex-husband because of his depression after losing his job and other stuff. But it turned out he was just using those excuses to finally carry out the final part of his plan (aka the final con to get her money). Cheuk Sir was meddling in her business, but he felt the truth was better than lying to herself. She was finally able to stand up on her own and started over. It wasn’t just in the matter of romance. But she learned to live for herself first and got her career back. There were some side encouragements from him and sometimes a little shove in the right direction, but he gave her space to build her own strength. Then they started their relationship. It felt right at different points of the story, not just rushed or randomly.
Charmaine and Raymond. I think this is my second favorite collaboration of them where they actually paired up. What was the first? It was actually Lethal Weapons of Love and Passion. Yes, that long ago. Because I didn’t like how their relationship was going to head toward in The Drive of Life–with both of their family histories and all. I gave up around the 20-something mark. I meant to go back but never really could. So I guess I don’t have to go back anymore since I got this one to fuel me. Because seriously, this one was a mixture of cuteness and seriousness rolled into one. They were so funny together when the time called for it and also had some of the most touching moments without making it too dramatic. Well, there were many dramatic scenes, but I felt like the way they portrayed their characters at those points and how they interacted with one another made it natural, not giving off the flakey feeling like in other dramas that created that intensity on purpose to draw in views. Sure, it was created that way, but it wasn’t too obvious because it made sense to the plot itself and the theme surrounding the gangs and all their conflicts. The most dramatic scene between the two of them was probably the part where she confronted him and asked why he didn’t do anything to save her adopted mothers. We, as viewers, knew that he tried and was held down and watched in helplessness. It was really hard to explain it without it sounding like an excuse. How could he say it when he was still processing everything? She also needed to let all her feelings out. But the turnaround to it was how they both needed to cool down and realized what had happened and why it did. He took it to the extreme by wanting to resort to all methods to punish the criminals yet she told him to let go because she reminded him they were supposed to be the lawful cops and doing it according to the books. Despite all the grief and pain that she went through, she was able to see clearly they couldn’t sink to the others’ levels and destroying themselves too. Sure, it mostly had to do with the fact that she had some time to calm down already. But I was amazed that she didn’t go that way. They went through so much together and their conflicts and the consequences of many events spilling out. It was so intense to the point that we weren’t sure if they could ever heal from it. Yet the turnaround wasn’t too corny either. At least, it made sense for me how they healed through time.
Sharon and Sammy. OMG, can the writers just leave these two alone? Please? Too late now, I know. But seriously, why must they endure such tragedies? It wasn’t enough that they had a misunderstanding, lost their baby, finally reunited at long last to be separated again because of a tumor? (throwing my hands up in frustration but mostly for dramatic purpose) I mean, come on! I loved watching them and was one of the rare times I didn’t mind such a dramatic romance in the midst of all the intensity. It was a different kind of story from others in here. But that was soooo sad. I mean it wasn’t like it was the first time a tumor separated lovebirds. But these two seriously need a break after all that they’d been through. Sure, she learned to live and she built herself up through his encouragements to help others, not just depend on him, but seriously? It wasn’t like she wasn’t capable before but losing him had really affected her in ways she didn’t realize.
The team as a whole. I felt each and every one of them had a bond that was unbreakable for the most part. They started out unsure of one another because of what happened to Hong Sir. Then they learned to work together–through all the events of the story. For some, it took drastic turns; for others, they learned to get past it. There was a variety of reactions that was more realistic than just keeping the constant positivity. They also developed various types of relationships throughout and became more understanding toward one another, which made sense because of how much they’d gone through together.
Elena and Sharon as sisters. I didn’t really feel it at first but got drawn into their relations a little more. Maybe it was because how Katie managed to start over and they had more time to bond after what happened. It was also how Yan managed to pull out of the other toxic relationship and was more determined to keep to her goals. Their care and worries for one another at times were enough and weren’t overkilled some other dramas seemed to let on with family relations. Sure, I know people react differently depending on bonds or if it was a family member and all. But I felt their story was more believable.
Recommended? I think this is one of the rare series that I recommend recently, especially for TVB. Hey, especially if you’re fans of the main cast. If you’re a Charray fan, definitely a must-watch.
When I thought that 2016 was a terrible year for me, I was wrong. 2017 continued to tank to a new level of crappiness. There were many frustrating things–one after another. It was like when I asked, “How much worse could 2017 be?”, it was like a challenge to the universe. So stuff happening in real life obviously affected how much time I have for this blog or attempted to keep some sort of activity. I did better than last year regarding updates, but that was a lot of effort because I’m still way behind on some news that I wanted to talk about. Yet no time or more like didn’t feel like it at the moment. I continued to get drained to another level that I thought might not be possible–like several days before. Then the pattern just repeated itself at different intervals. I think somewhere along the way, I ended up revamping my blog by getting rid of the too random posts. Like those general update ones. Although my blog already is random on many levels, I didn’t want to just post for the sake of placeholders too much. Anyway, here are some stats for this year.
Complete failure–unlike what I promised last year about getting things done. I started looking over some of the fanfics again and managed to get going on some, but I can’t promise how fast it would be rolled out. I’ll get it out when I’m happy with what I wrote.
I used “You’re Always Beautiful” to start the year, thinking that if I continue to retain some sense of positiveness, somehow things will get better. But it didn’t. Anyway, how was this year regarding translations? I didn’t realize I was that productive. Mostly, I tried to push the majority of 183 Club’s songs out.
I didn’t want to do this update like I said last year. However, I felt like I needed to persuade myself to continue on. Not to mention, I want to keep some sort of a teeny, tiny bit of hope that 2018 will actually be better. So we’ll see, right?
Just when I thought The Maverick was the worst of the ’80s classics, I was wrong. This sort of took the trophy from the other one. Why was it the worst? I swear, it started out interesting enough with a team of women kicking asses and carrying out righteous acts. Yet it deteriorated after the initial scenes, making them victims and eventually devaluing their cause. I’ll go into more detail later.
Angie Chiu (趙雅芝) as Mu Lan Hua (木蘭花). This was possibly my second favorite role of Angie–if only it didn’t deteriorate. It wasn’t her fault. She tried her best, but the plot sort of went against her, letting her become a pathetic victim later, not allowing her to soar higher than that. I thought she was awesome and was smart in concealing her identity. Yet the scriptwriters just had to make her lesser than some other people in here–just because they were trying to create the illusion that the villain was worse. I know, duh, villains were supposed to be bad. But honestly, if they didn’t knock the major characters’ IQ down several pegs, they couldn’t make it look like the villains were smart. The final trap proved her capabilities and intelligence once again, but I wished the plot didn’t knock her down and dragged it through the mud before restoring her character. It was seriously frustrating.
Sharon Yeung (楊盼盼) as Mu Xiu Zhen (木秀珍) aka Mu Mian Hua (木棉花). I thought I was going to really like this character of Sharon. In fact, I did at the beginning. She was a bit hot-headed/impulsive at the beginning, which I thought was kinda cute since she was still young after all–and it made the whole bickering with their nanny funnier. Yet that also passed and I realized the scriptwriters were just trying to knock her down–like how they made Angie weak later. With her, it was her impulsive behaviors and then her IQ wasn’t improving at all, but it had gone down to the point of frustrating. I liked that Sharon got to be the kicking ass superwoman since I’d often seen her in roles where she was always suffering through tragedies so she cried a lot in those (even if she did have fighting scenes or tried to prove herself)–with the exception of her martial arts movies. I thought I was going to enjoy seeing her being awesome, but was totally disappointed by how her character turned out.
Kenneth Tsang (曾江) as Cheng Wu Hui (程無悔). Despite the flaw in the plot, I thought Kenneth delivered–like how Angie and Sharon had tried with theirs. He was my favorite character from the start since his identity was a mystery and how he was being hunted by the assassins. Yes, we knew he was a friend of the family of the Mu’s, but that was it. He didn’t have any other identity. The details unfolding was nice enough, allowing us to see more into his world and his personalities. He wasn’t afraid to cut corners, considering how the world was back then. What disturbed me greatly was his infatuation toward Lan Hua. Okay, it wasn’t impossible and I had rooted for older man and younger woman relationships before, but this was different. He was indeed a friend of the family and sort of like her uncle (in a sense of comparing him to her father). Aside from that, it sort of knocked down his character for me a bit, considering how I thought he was a good guidance for both sisters in such chaotic time. Did the scriptwriters had to go there to be so controversial?
Melvin Wong (黃錦燊) as Gao Xiang (高翔) aka Di Qiu (地球). I liked him, but I felt they had him appeared to knock the Mu sisters down thus rendering their roles useless. I swear. It wasn’t like I needed the sisters to be perfect, but I felt they (the scriptwriters) had to knock the sisters down, not allowing them to excel so we could see Gao Xiang’s awesomeness or something. He was mysterious and funny in his own way. Yet can’t they just have him and the other two going against each other (as relevant one point of the story) with their talents matching or something instead of making it like the other two needed his rescue all the time? Although there were times Lan Hua helped him too, I felt his character was untouchable (well, until later, lol) to the point that the other two just looked pathetic, waiting to be rescued.
Cheung Kwok Keung (張國強) as Yun Cheng Feng (雲乘風). This was probably one of his major roles back then? It was either that or I didn’t watch the right dramas back then. But I was surprised that he got a major role in here. I thought he would become a side character since he wasn’t around much at the beginning and was fading into the back. Yet he got pulled forward because the focus on his family became more apparent. He delivered with whatever he had to work with and I felt he was one of the true victims of the story, considering how he was stuck in the conflicts and all.
Susanna Kwan (關菊英) as Yun Zhao Yi (雲昭儀). She sure was ambitious in her plans. It was somewhat hilarious that she thought she was going to win in the battle of power with her father. She thought he was weak yet she had no idea. But what got me irked was how I was reminded each time a woman was displaying ambitious nature, they were immediately labeled as the bad woman. It was like they (the scriptwriters) needed to tell us that women should be victims/weak/obedient to be good or something. Sure, I understand Zhao Yi’s lust for power and wanting to overthrow her father and it wasn’t impossible that she was so scheming, not caring about family and all. Yet it was a typical pattern of TVB to make ambitious women out to be the bad ones in the end so I couldn’t just let it go.
Peter Yang (楊群) as Yun Tian Peng (雲天鵬) aka the real Tai Yang (太陽). I knew he wasn’t just in to play some pathetic old man. Didn’t mean for it to come out that way, but the plot paved it that way for him, with his daughter conspiring against him and all. Then there was the whole sickness and hospital scenes. It was an elaborate trap all right. I didn’t doubt his cruelty since he represented a part of a major crime organization. What he underestimated was Lan Hua’s recovery and how she was able to put aside her feelings and create a final trap for him.
Kwan Hoi San (關海山) as Tai Yang (太陽). He was fierce and calculating enough to be the leader. Yet that was also a front for others to underestimate Yun Tian Peng. He also became a pawn for Yun’s final scheme after all. Great performance from him like always, even if short-lived.
Paul Chun (秦沛) as Huo Xing (火星). I thought he was going to be around until the end yet it wasn’t so. He also became another chess piece along the way. I was disappointed that he wasn’t that smart. I thought he knew better. It was sort of anti-climatic to have him gone so soon. But perhaps that created the mystery of what was next?
Cheung Ying Choi ( 張英才) as Mu Yi Long (木一龍). He was in here for a short time. He was another true victim of all the chaos. But what I thought was really fake of how the scene was laid out after his death. It wasn’t convincing and I thought it might be something else with how he was already saved and was just at some other place. Then I was reminded of that TVB probably didn’t want to get too graphic with the whole explosion scenes and the aftermaths.
Lam Tin (藍天) as Long Kun (龍坤). He was probably the most despicable in here, even comparing to Yun Tian Peng. He betrayed everyone around him and was really only out for himself. Even though he was exposed and punished later, but I felt it wasn’t enough. He’d done so much damage throughout.
Chun Wong (秦煌) as Cao Te Hua (曹特華). He was funny for me at the beginning and annoying in the later parts yet somehow managed to compensate himself for the ending. It wasn’t much of a role but I guessed he had to be there since he was relevant for the ending parts.
Lee Kwok Lun (李國麟) as Cop. He only appeared from time to time or more like most of the first few episodes. It was just fun to see a familiar face in here. Not much.
Questions/ Discussions/ Frustrations:
TVB seriously DO NOT know how to write strong female characters. I think I watched enough TVB series to get this out there. YES, I do know the time period that was in the story and it made sense that women didn’t get to make much of an impact during those times. But this was after all a story focusing on the strong female characters so why can’t they just stretch it a bit and make them awesome all the way instead of devaluing them like that? Like I said in the other part, I didn’t mind that Xiu Zhen was impulsive since it was kind of funny at first–and I initially thought she was just impatient and more for actions than talks. Yet the story just made her character worse and worse by enhancing her impulsiveness tenfold. In fact, it had stepped into the stupidity territory, which caused deaths or other consequences along the way. Okay, with some other series, the main lead might or might not have caused some deaths or consequences at the beginning too, but they somehow grow later. What has Xiu Zhen grown into? A total bitch? I don’t usually use that kind of language. But I couldn’t take it anymore with how her character turned out. Not to mention how strong personality type of character DO NOT mean that they were always loud and brainless. Did TVB have anyone to consult with regarding people’s personalities? I got it that she could be lively and smart too, not too boring. But seriously, Xiu Zhen was a complete idiot by the end of the story. Or should I rephrase and ask if TVB know that people could be lively and intelligent too, not a loud-mouth without a brain? Then there was Lan Hua, the smarter and sensible of the two. However, she was knocked down (like said before) when Gao Xiang appeared. Sure, they did have some battles of wit along the way yet it seemed like Gao Xiang was always one step ahead. (Okay, I don’t want to make it petty by turning it into a “men vs. women” kind of thing, but the plot laid it out that way with their competitions at the beginning.) I would like it better that they match wit-per-wit or something. It seemed that way on the surface at times, but it was obvious Gao Xiang was the stronger one. It made sense because he was more experienced than them and was actually one of the members in that mysterious organization that they were trying to investigate, but again, please stick to the theme of the series. Not only did they knock Lan Hua down, but also made her a complete victim halfway through and then somehow restoring her character at the end for the final battle. I totally understand her breakdowns during the times when she thought Gao Xiang was dead and when he was really dead, but I didn’t like it that she was soooo trusting of Yun Tian Peng. I had a feeling she wasn’t just the type to just plain lean into others just because they were there. She proved her capabilities and how she managed to keep her distance and had outright told Cheng Wu Hui about her feelings (or lack of) toward him. Once again, I got it that Yun Tian Peng was scheming and manipulative, so careful and all and so easy to trust, but seriously?
The disturbing matches? I don’t know what to call it really but it was the whole idea of it was all right that somehow Lan Hua ended up with Yun Tian Peng. Hello, there was an actual wedding with others attending so happily. Seriously? I don’t know how that was even acceptable. Like Xiu Zhen was with Cheng Feng already so Yun Tian Peng was her father-in-law. Yet it was all right that her sister married her father-in-law? What? Even before Lan Hua learned of Yun Tian Peng’s true identity as Tai Yang, she was seriously all right with it too. I swear it was sooo messed up. It wasn’t about her forgoing with the revenge plot either. She was fine with it. Like I thought she would only apologize for misunderstanding him that one time Cheng Wu Hui brought to her attention about some suspicious details that he might be involved with Gao Xiang’s death YET she had to go one more step to give him the sweater she knitted. (That time, Yun Tian Peng used trickery to get out of it and eventually dissolved the misunderstanding just like that.) What? That was a grand gesture and indicated something else. Tell me I’m not the only one wanting to puke if it were to go through otherwise.
Recommended? If you don’t want to think but just watch, go ahead. If you’re fine with these types of dramas, go ahead.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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