Raising the Bar

Surprisingly, I also watched this ages back and do not remember much anymore. However, I couldn’t get some things out of my mind regarding this for some reason, so I thought I might as well do a review and get it all out. I have already forgotten about most of the characters since there were a lot. Yet I remember some stuff, so will try to discuss those areas.

The reason why I even watched this in the first place was because of Ben Wong and how he managed to make it back to the main lead at long last. Yes, that was the sole reason why I wanted to watch at first. I usually do not watch legal series, but I made an exception for Ben. So, yeah, if Ben ever read this, he should be happy, lol. (YEAH, right, lol.) Anyway, how was it? To say that it was a mistake was an understatement. There were some good things about it–for sure. But some things were just too whatever.

Main Cast:

  • Ben Wong as Marcus Fan Chi Ngai (范智毅). So, Ben’s back as the main guy. How was he? In a sense of acting, I didn’t doubt him at all throughout. He delivered. It was a long journey for him making up top again so I applaud him. In a sense of character, I guess he was a typical good guy, so there wasn’t much to say about that. I actually liked his goofy off-work side more, lol. Because he would end up in all these strange debates with the other senior lawyers or with his friends.
  • Louis Cheung as Quinton Chow Chi Pok (周梓博). Coming in from Black Heart White Soul, I say my perception was mixed feelings. Yes, my last series of him before watching this one was that one, so yeah, it was going great for him really. (Yes, sarcasm.) However, I swear, he did better in the other one. Yes, even if he was a mix character in the other one, he delivered better in terms of acting. In this one, I thought he was too trying, possibly because of taking on a student a role or something. I’m not sure. I couldn’t figure it out. But his charater was all right. Nothing really special that stood out for me. At least, he wasn’t annoying either?
  • Ram Chiang as Woody Lam Sam Muk (林森木). He was the other shining character in here for me. I thought he contributed to shouldering the series for the majority of the main cast already and deserved a call out for that. He had some interesting insights and often the voice of reason among their group of senior lawyers at times.
  • Grace Chan as Giselle Tong Ching Chi (唐靖姿). I tried really hard to like her but I just couldn’t. Seriously, it was really hard. First, I had my bias with Grace–thanks a lot to Overachievers, I didn’t like her at all in there. So yeah, seeing her in here, it was hard to restrain. Battling that bias took several episodes for me and it became easier because once I got into her character, I did like her ambition and her willingness to work toward her goal. Her character was interesting in that sense and she did have some principles or at least, tried to live by the codes, not cutting corners, etc. But as the series went along, her character became boring for me in a sense. I guess, I was just impatient. So I tried to focus on other parts of the plot and see how it went with her journey to becoming a lawyer. What went completely downhill and became a nail in the coffin for me was the last conflict of the series. The one where Marcus was accused of having an affair with one of the students (or it was said he manipulated his way into it via his power). I seriously wanted to reach into the screen and strangle her. Yeah, that bad. I know we–as the audience–witnessed along with Giselle throughout how lawyers had gone astray or forgot their original goal after having been in the industry for too long. Giselle, herself, was also a victim of those harassment throughout the series. However, having been with Marcus for that long and understanding him like that, how could she disregard his words and believe the other girl completely? What happened to innocent until proven guilty or relying on evidence or whatever else. I do understand in those cases, there was a posibility of people in higher places abusing their power, etc. However, I thought she would have given Marcus the benefit of a doubt because she worked alongside him for so long. Nope, she not only disregard his integrity entirely but also withheld evidence, causing the situation to drag out until the girl’s family member decided to submit the journal on her own. What the hell? I don’t know how the legal system over there work (because I don’t live there, so this isn’t a snappy comment, just saying I don’t have firsthand information), but when you found something relevant to an ongoing case, you submit it. Or at least, that was how it was supposed to be. She withheld it and thought it was fine? Seriously? Even though it was someone’s personal journal, but there was an ongoing case regarding a very serious matter, that should qualify as evidence. I don’t know if that was an error of the scriptwriters OR just a flaw in the character, but that totally did it for me, not caring for her character at all. She shoudln’t have become a lawyer either if she acted like that. OR maybe she fitted right in with all those flaky lawyers? Seriously, I didn’t even know why Marcus forgave her at all. Sure, she had determination, etc. But she made the wrong call major time regarding legalities.

Supporting:

  • Elaine Yiu as Vivian Cheung Wai Wan (張慧芸). I was really, really surprised they didn’t throw Elaine off the bus this time. Well, in some ways, they did. She cheated, no doubt about it. But I was surprised they redeemed her later and made her character realized what was important during the car accident scene. I was also surprised that they allowed for her to return to her family all intact and didn’t forgo some side drama in that area also. It was strange because I swear I still have PTSD from all the times TVB threw Elaine under the bus because she wasn’t the main lead and was taking on continuous similar roles. I guessed that because they had to focus on other major characters, so they just let her off–or ran out of time. But I liked that she got to portray a lawyer this time around.
  • Natalie Tong as Ashley Cheng Cheuk Tung (鄭妁彤). I never thought there came the day I wanted Natalie to have more scenes. Yes, coming from me who kept complaining nonstop about her repetitive roles. However, this was seriously a different type of role for her and shone through. I was surprised they let her portray this role since it was completely different from her cutesy roles or innocent ones. I actually quite liked this side of Natalie with the professional front, but also a mysterious background–somewhat at first. She was daring, witty and charming. It was indeed addicting to watch her in here. I thought this type of role was more challeinging for her or more interesting to watch than the usual they kept giving her. It seemed more of a challenge.
  • Timothy Cheng as Duncan Yam Suen Yip (任雋燁). He was hilarious. Seriously, he cooked up a lot of schemes for Marcus. One of the rare roles I liked of his. Maybe it was because whenever I watched a series he was in, he took on a less than likable role. So, yes, this one was refreshing for me in that playful and light-hearted way. Of course, he took part in his own set of intense dramas, but for the majority of the time, he seemed to take on a comedic role among their group of senior lawyers.
  • Elena Kong as Judge Amanda Lui (呂官). I don’t remember much about her anymore. But I remember liking her.
  • Sam Tsang as Don Chu Yiu Lik (朱耀力). I kind of liked him at first, then the cheating came into play and I was just like, throw him away. However, for some odd reason, knowing his age, I didn’t find him trying too hard the way Louis did with his lively vibe. Maybe it was Sam’s experience or how his character was that made it less annoying. I don’t know.

Pairings:

  • Ben and Elaine. I remember reading some articles about how Elaine talked about her collaboration with Ben and they worked well together because they knew each other a long time already, etc. I don’t want to disregard all that. I thought it was interesting in a way that they paired up in here and even have a small family of their own. However, I still didn’t feel the chemistry as strong. Sure, I liked them together at times and the way they were at times. It seemed they were comfortable in their roles and their interactions. That was good. But in my weird brain, it didn’t work as a “wow” over the top chemistry as I spotted with some of their past on screen partners. It was still fun to watch though.
  • Elaine and Sam. I know, I must be crazy to be put them in. But I swear they had more chemistry for some odd reason. AND no, I don’t promote cheating or whatever. I hate those people and their excuses the most. However, in an interesting turn of events, them as actor and actress, I found more chemistry with them for some reason. So, what I’m trying to say is if they ever work together in another drama, I would support this pairing.
  • Natalie and Timothy. Normally, I wouldn’t like this repetitive formula. But considering the options of the drama, I found them much more interesting to watch than some couples in here. It was somewhat tragic or maybe just sad when the plot was laid out at some parts. But the ending was seriously hilarious. He had to work super hard for their family of three, lol.

Recommended? I would say you have to love the main cast to watch. It was hard for me mostly because of some of the things I listed up there. So, it wasn’t enjoyable for me. But those who like legal dramas might want to check it out. It’s not in my top 20, but it was somewhat okay to watch.

Celebs Real Life Couples

Okay, I was just bored and wanted to start a list. But I will only include the ones I know for sure of OR care about somewhat. So if you don’t see your favorites on there, DON’T freak out. Also, I’m not including any past relationships OR rumors. AND–yes, this is the last one–I’m dividing them by region since I was getting a headache trying to group ’em one way or another.

Hong Kong

  • Andy Hui and Sammi Cheng
  • Angela Tong and Chin Ka Lok
  • Edmond So and Winnie Lau
  • Eric Suen and Macy Chan
  • Ekin Cheng and Yoyo Mung
  • Felix Wong and Leung Kit Wah
  • Frankie Lam and Kenix Kwok
  • Hacken Lee and Emily Lo
  • Jacky Cheung and May Lo
  • John Chiang and Lee Lam Lam
  • Kevin Cheng and Grace Chan
  • Leila Tong and Desmond Tang
  • Liu Kai Chi and Barbara Chan
  • Michael Miu and Jamie Chik
  • Noel Leung and Gary Chan
  • Power Chan and Mimi Lo
  • Roger Kwok and Cindy Au
  • Simon Yam and Qi Qi
  • Stephen Fung and Shu Qi
  • Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Carina Lau
  • Wong Cho Lam and Leanne Li

Mainland China

  • Benny Qian and Coco Lv
  • Deng Chao and Betty Sun Li
  • Dong Xuan and Gao Yun Xiang
  • Fu Xin Bo and Ying Er
  • Kevin Yan and Sunny Du
  • Qiao Zhen Yu and Wang Qian Yi
  • Tiffany Tang Yan and Luo Jin
  • Tong Li Ya and Chen Si Cheng
  • Zhang Jie and Xie Na

Taiwan

  • Alice Ko and Kunda Hsieh
  • Alyssa Chia and Xiu Jie Kai
  • Ann Hsu and Roy Chiu
  • Blue J and Sandrine Pinna
  • Blue Lan and Jade Chou
  • Calvin Chen and Joanne Tseng
  • Chen Yu Feng and Ye Jia Yu
  • Eric Huang and Jenny Lu
  • June Tsai and Lee Yi
  • Justine Ji and Wu Jian Xin
  • Leroy Yang and Jiang Zu Ping
  • Nylon Chen and Lene Lai
  • Phil Chang and Shi Yi Lang
  • Vic Chou and Reen Yu
  • Wallace Huo and Ruby Lin
  • Wesley Chia and Amanda Chu

Singapore

  • Christopher Lee and Fann Wong

MIXED

  • Ada Choi and Max Zhang
  • Archie Kao and Zhou Xun
  • Dicky Cheung and Jess Zhang
  • Gallen Lo and Sophie Su
  • Mark Chao and Gao Yuan Yuan
  • Michelle Chen and Chen Xiao
  • Nicky Wu and Cecilia Liu Shi Shi
  • Sonija Kwok and Zhu Shao Jie

*This list will be updated from time to time.

Overachievers

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

Main Cast:

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

Supporting:

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

Others:

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

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