Under the Veil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ruse of Engagement

I must say that this was one of the most anticipated dramas for me since it was delayed for a while. I can’t wait to see a collaboration between Ruco and Ron. However, it was a disappointment, to say the least. Sure, it started out nicely and built the suspense bit-by-bit. But it began to crumble just as fast as it gained my confidence that the series would do well. Mostly because of certain characters. It picked up in the suspense department later on but fell short of being an epic drama because of how much frustration was going on throughout the series. Sure, frustration was one of the key elements contributing to the suspense but they didn’t have to depend on it to drag out the episodes. Why did they drag us through all that to end with such a tragic ending? Not like I couldn’t accept that since it was all possible with how things turned out. Yet some things didn’t make sense. Where to start?

Main Cast:

  • Ruco Chan as Carson Chong Yau Ching. Very arrogant and hot-headed at first. However, he wasn’t all bad. He was mischievous and not as obedient as some people. But he was indeed quite smart and resourceful. He was also capable of enduring all types of pain to take the most dangerous missions. I felt this role was quite good for Ruco. Yet the side things made it kind of frustrating, mostly in the romance area. But his acting was awesome in here, compensating for past senseless roles that he had to endure to finally take lead roles.
  • Yoyo Mung as Yip Ting. One of my favorite Yoyo roles up to date. In many ways, she was unpredictable so I felt hope for the series. Yes, she was a reporter but she wasn’t too annoying. There were many layers to her character and not so one-dimensional like other reporters in the past. She was stubborn but was also quite intelligent. There were times she needed rescuing but there were other times that she was able to fend for herself. She wouldn’t go down without a fight.
  • Ron Ng as Alfred Chong Yau Kit. Disappointed. I was looking forward to this role of Ron and didn’t care to read spoilers. Yet I felt they (the scriptwriters) didn’t need to throw Ron under the bus for this. Sure, I got that not everyone could be a hero and they were trying to make it different for this one. But I think there were too many plots with brothers competing (both for capabilities and girls) so for once I wish they would lay off this. Also, NOT cool that he was moving in on Jessica briefly after his brother’s death AND the most despicable of all was using his brother’s tactics to win over Jessica. Things didn’t turn out as he wished later but Carson sure was right in accusing him of wanting to get rid of Carson because of Jessica. (Although that was all misunderstandings, I felt since Alfred idolized his brother, the least he could do was believe his brother AND to remember what happened the last time and consider it was all undercover or some other reason.)
  • Aimee Chan as Jessica Chung Yat Ka. At first, I thought her character was cool. But she lost ground for me when Carson supposedly died. She was at a vulnerable moment of her life, but I felt it was just too easy to move on with Alfred shortly after Carson’s death. So when she was jealous of Carson and Yip Ting when Carson was just helping Yip Ting that one time and taking care of Yip Ting, I didn’t care. Jealousy didn’t have to make sense, BUT I felt like hey, who was she to act like such? Then I think that some things didn’t make sense in the end. I felt that it was too fast trying to make Jessica crazy and trying to end it on a tragic note since she suddenly wanted to do the same as her father with selling the stuff to foreign countries or other shady parties? Um, yeah, I got it that through various points, it seemed that Jessica was really fake. But we, the audience, only got it as we see, they (the scriptwriters) need to work on the plot better to let them (the characters) see that she was the cunning type, not suddenly going crazy and taking the easy way out after declaring that Carson had betrayed her. Well, he did BUT it was like everything was rushed and all jumbled in the last episode. OR something. Other than that, I felt that Aimee did a very good job for the role.

Supporting:

  • Eddie Kwan as Steven Shum Chi Ngo. Their boss but was suspected throughout as the bad guy.
  • Lai Lok Yi as Fu Wang-leung. He was said to be the mole later on YET was only used to further others’ agenda.
  • Dickson Lee as Paul Sir. One of the bosses. Tough.
  • Kenny Wong as Ko Wai. One of the bosses. I’m so sick and tired of seeing him everywhere and playing important roles. That was it.
  • Louise Lee as Tong Shuk Fun. Carson and Alfred’s mother.
  • Law Lok Lam as Kiu Kim Hang. Yip Ting’s adopted father.
  • Lee Kwok Lun as Chung Lai Him. Jessica’s father.
  • Vivien Yeo as Yeung Lok Man. Seduced and used Kiu Kim Hang at one point to further her agenda. Although Vivien’s acting was fantastic I felt it was a waste of time for her. It was just another bad girl role. So at least it wasn’t senseless, but still not worth mentioning since they kept sinking her.
  • Leanne Li as Betty / Beauty Yeung Yan Mei. One of the AFT members.
  • Fred Cheng as Eric Lee Kam. Another waste of time. I don’t know. He was just there.

The ending? Seriously? Okay, I didn’t have a hard time believing that Carson truly loved Jessica. I just have a hard time believing that Carson was that irresponsible to leave his mother behind for Alfred to take care of. He had always been very filial to his mother–regardless of situations. So why did he do it? Well, he was devastated after how things turned out and how Jessica had accused him of betraying their love. Human behaviors are indeed unpredictable, but seriously? I got why Carson didn’t accept Yip Ting and actually felt it fitted his stubborn nature and how loyal he was to Jessica despite Jessica’s accusations. Yes, he did betray her trust by using her to extract some information yet he was trying to patch things up and somehow let her off easily. She was the one who went right to his brother after his supposed death the first time around, hello, in case anyone wanted to point fingers. I also felt the ending tried too much to make the whole Carson and Jessica thing worked that they had unknowingly throw Yip Ting under the bus. I didn’t think it was in Yip Ting’s nature to force Carson to accept her that fast right after Jessica’s death. So her offer proved that Carson wasn’t easily wavered, showing how loyal he was to Jessica. However, it didn’t fit with Yip Ting’s personality. Sure, she was upset when it seemed like he was sacrificing her for whatever was going on previously. But she wasn’t the type to just jump right in like that after all the chaos.

So recommended? Unless you want to choke to death with the ending, don’t. If you want to watch Ruco and Aimee as a pairing, I heard Outbound Love (單戀雙城) is a much better choice. (I haven’t watched it yet but will leave up to the fans for that one.) On the other hand, I felt robbed because I actually quite liked the collaboration between Ruco and Ron, however, it was ruined when they decided to let the brothers fight over the same girl. Then there was the thing with crafting Yip Ting’s character so nicely to be tossed aside totally in the end. I understood why some of the stuff happened and Carson was too in love with Jessica to care about the other girl, but I felt it was such a shame that there was nothing going on between them except for the conspiracy they were in at one point. I totally would watch if one day Ruco and Yoyo collaborate again. Perhaps a better script, not just compensation for it like some other past pairings (and failed). Maybe it was better not to try too hard to make the main leads end up together or something. Yet I felt the whole throwing Yip Ting under the bus was already a stretch. Because I quite liked it that Yip Ting continued to strive forward at the end on her own. Just that the last bit to wrap up in favor of Carson and Jessica’s story made it kind of low.

Catch Me Now

I must agree with people that it’s actually one of the best TVB dramas of 2008. And I also agree that the ending had ruined everything. If they’d thought of things beforehand and stuck with it, there wouldn’t be any need for alternate endings. It’s just lame and inexcusable. The ending for this series is actually more acceptable and understandable than the one for D.I.E. since it’s just dumb to suddenly kill Roger’s character out of nowhere. Talking about that, both dramas are awesome, but the ending or alternate ending had ruined it.

Good Points about Catch Me Now:

  • Damian Lau – Still awesome and unbeatable as always and prove that the people of his generation are still way ahead. TVB made a great choice by letting him take on this role. Very clever, witty, and charming at that. His portrayal as Jack was just right and beyond the character also. (Although it did get me to wonder if TVB had borrowed the idea from Pirates of the Caribbean since his restaurant and his name, NOT to mention what he did underground. But I will let it slide since it was Damian after all.)
  • Idy Chan – I was having second thoughts about watching this at first because of her, but I must say although a bit rusty but she did make it worthwhile to watch as the series moved on. Although her chemistry with Damian was a bit awkward at times (not their acting but to me as their appearances), it was great in a sense when you get into their characters more. The pair actually complemented each other because although she was kind of a klutz and not really intelligent, her principle and belief about life have made Jack realized lots of other things and made him think more positive about the general human population.
  • Joe Ma – I was super surprised to like him in this series and his portrayal as one of the main guys. But I really got into liking him in this series. He really suited this role as the tough/ serious cop with a great sense of righteousness. His character struggled through grasping the “gray” area of life was also quite traumatizing and a great point in the story since it was a conflict between cops vs. thieves/robbers.
  • Both Damian & Joe’s teams in this story – Loved their interactions with each other as well as of the other side. How they followed the leader and were very loyal and were also understanding to the point of willing to cooperate with each other in the end.
  • The fact that Johnson Lee finally gets a chance to show off his awesome acting. He has always been awesome, but I thought in this role he stood out even more. I swear TVB was robbing him as bad as they were robbing Wayne Lai or some others. But in this one, he was brilliant as the comical BT with both charm and wit. Sharon Chan was also a very good match for him in here and a very refreshing chemistry for them. Uncalled for to kill him off, but when I watched the scene where BT died, I was so taken aback and have to give TVB credit doing the aftermath scenes just right. Quite tragic and so fast for anyone to react.
  • Same as Johnson Lee, I finally see Dickson Lee in a role worth watching after the brilliant role he portrayed in The Black Sabre more than a decade ago. I really loved his character in here because it was a mix of humor and seriousness. Although he seemed like he was breaking the rules and cutting the corners, plus being a jerk at the beginning for snapping at Joe’s character at every chance. But he was just a straight-forward person and had a smart-mouth. He was a very loyal friend with others as well as his fellow cops.
  • Sharon Chan – Sort of mentioned her role already above but I want to add that I finally see her back in action. I meant she was in quite a few series lately, but this was by far the best since she had taken on 2nd lead roles. She was more natural in here than say Lethal Weapons of Love & Passion. I really loved her role in here and that I can see that she has worked hard for the role.
  • The concept of “black” and “white” and the “gray” in between.

The only draggy parts were the ongoing misunderstandings between Joe Ma and Fala Chan’s characters. Once or twice, we got it, but the repetitiveness of it made it unendurable. I totally understood the struggle and the feeling Fala’s character went through, but they stretched it too much that I wanted to toss something at the TV. Overall, a very good series and worth-watching.

Posted (on Xanga): September 14, 2008

Re-posted: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010