Master of Play

This was on my ‘to-watch’ list anyway so no surprise that I followed through. OMG, I read some spoilers coming into the series. BUT lucky I didn’t care for it since I had read some comments on how people who like happy, fluffy stuff might not like it. (AND that some people might not get it.) SO I was patient and followed throughout–without fast-forwarding. YES, I do admit that some parts were slow, but it was essential to the overall story. Because it revolved around psychological conflicts, I tried to be patient since I do enjoy those types of theme, and the mystery it often involved. I must say that I was quite impressed and have to say that it was cleverly done throughout. Honestly, the same creators who made When Heaven Burns and somewhat of a similar cast here and there, but it was worth it. I was really fascinated with the plot layout and the order the story was told in–in an attempt to focus on the emotional and psychological turmoils within more than just some lame plot about “OMG, it’s a psycho, we need to bring him in” type of thing. YES, the cops were there and they tried to bring the “psycho” in too. YET it wasn’t so. Since the cops were just part of the background story. The major and minor characters in here were much more complicated than that. Again, like When Heaven Burns, it focused on how life wasn’t just full of black and white–though the discussions often bounced back and forth–here and there. Exploring the gray areas of life with how people react to certain situations and what they would go through to protect those around them was more realistic than just focusing on convincing ‘who was right’ or ‘who was actually wrong’ all along. Sure, there were the obvious sides of the ones who were supposedly good and the bad, but only the layout was that way because society liked to separate. However, the way it was made with what was going on, the creators of the show let us decide that on our own.

Main Cast:

  • Adam Cheng as Kan Siu Nam (靳兆楠). Finally, a totally different role for Adam without the whole ‘heroic’ title attached. Though I found it a tad weird at the beginning and needed some getting used to, I soon focused on his character more to see what was going on. In a way, I found it cool to use that type of technique to solve cases at first. YET later, I found it stupid. Seriously, trying to attach yourself to the killer’s personality to get to him/her? It was crazy all right. It was too risky, to say the least. I realized more and more later on that he was such a busybody. It was like saying he didn’t have to involve himself within the cases yet he did. He wasn’t a cop anyway, so why was he meddling? I swore his fate was deserved because he kept digging and digging and all the stuff that he got into made situations worse–to say the least. Though I understood his character’s conflicts at times, especially regarding his daughter–and the way he was getting himself involved so he could avoid the unavoidable with what happened to his daughter ages ago. (That was my guess.) YET he didn’t know when to stop. That was his downfall. He seriously messed with the wrong party and even if he had killed Ivan, he was going down. I’m not hinting at the psychological breakdown either but more like the whole getting burned to death at the end. Aside from all those things, I thought he was convincing in this role. Regardless of how he was too into his conflict with accepting his daughter’s death OR when he was losing it with becoming Ivan, he sort of created those worlds convincingly.
  • Maggie Siu as Esther Lee Chor Kiu (李楚蕎). Typical poor rich girl role. YET the later parts made her character different. Maggie’s short hair in here reminded me of her younger days when the short hairstyle was her trademark. But I really miss her longer hair, like how it was at the beginning of the series. Anyway, I felt so bad for her not because she got sacrificed (or more like sacrificed herself to save Ivan). But her family had a lot to do with her downfall. To have her own mother not supporting throughout, always pretending to care for her (and scolding Ivan) YET all the mother cared about was status and reputation. (Not to mention how her mother loved sons over daughters, AND I wonder what the hell she is? Is she not a woman herself?) Only Ivan was the one who was there for Esther when she went through such tragic situations. Ivan made her feel whole and important.
  • Moses Chan as  Ivan Cheung Sai Yin (章世言). This must be one of Moses’ most challenging roles. Not only did he have to act as Ivan in conflict with himself, but he had to switch to the other personalities also. By the time the story shifted to Esther finding out about Moses’ multiple personality problem, that scene was so brilliant. Moses was able to distinguish the differences among each personality. When he acted as all those personalities, it really reflected how the others were playing out their roles as his personalities. It was like looking into a mirror of personalities. (Great team.) I felt one couldn’t really hate Ivan because though he could be considered a killer, but he didn’t just kill recklessly and as he liked. Either he was forced to kill or he didn’t have a choice. (Saying “we always have a choice” IS LAME and unrealistic.) The choices he made caused the irreversible in the end, but from the beginning, he was tormented with his own guilt and whatever voice of the conscience was left.
  • Aimee Chan as Natalie Cheung Sai Ting (章世婷). We were misled into thinking she was Kan Siu Nam and Angela’s missing daughter for the majority of the series. At least most of the clues pointed to her, until she later revealed it herself at the police station. (Actually, her conversation with Ivan before she left their house said it all with her telling him to clean up his act since there won’t be anyone around to do that for him anymore, and that because of him she had to lie to two very pitiful persons.) I was impressed with her performance throughout. She made me feel the liveliness of Natalie’s innocence side at the beginning, and the more complicated side later on as the story unfolded and she found out much more of her brother’s world that had caused her shift in attitude and/or reaction about life. (AND this was a comparison among all her other roles that I had watched, NOT hinting that she was superior to others. YET I don’t think I need to prove my taste–or capability–at all. People could think whatever they want. Honestly.)

Others:

  • Ram Tseung as John. The director at the local theater and also Kan Siu Nam’s best friend. He was often the voice of reason to stop Kan Siu Nam from doing anything rash or getting into sticky situations. I must indeed agree he was the wisest in here though he didn’t judge. BUT I disagreed with Kan Siu Nam that he would get killed for his own intelligence because Kan should be referring to himself regarding the whole getting hurt for being intelligent. (Since Kan kept meddling into others’ matters, which were not his.) I so agreed with John when he told Kan that it wasn’t Kan’s job to put the balance back in the universe with his actions (i.e. what to do with Ivan’s case).
  • Rebecca Chan as Angela Mok Lai Hing (莫麗馨). I liked her character in here, really liked it. She was not only wise but didn’t care if she became the ‘bad’ person or got misunderstood when she tried to stop Kan from his craziness. It wasn’t like she didn’t care for her daughter YET she knew how to stick with reality and moving on didn’t mean not loving her daughter anymore. It just meant she wanted to cherish her life and not let the others in her life down.
  • Lily Ho as Tansy Kan Chi Ying (靳芷縈). The older version of Tansy. NOT the real Tansy but more like the imagined version of Tansy to which Kan Siu Nam was drawing up as part of his fantasy (aka not accepting that Tansy was already dead). I don’t know. I didn’t have any feelings toward her except knowing she was what Kan imagined his daughter would be like, a cute, lovable girl, etc.
  • Yu Yang as Steve Chan Yat Kei (陳一奇). A very funny character. I know several dentists (OF COURSE with the necessity of having one BUT also personally), and his personality in here was too funny to relate to. Yet I guess all is possible since there are many dentists in this world and outside work, they’re normal human beings living their own lives after all. I really liked his character because he was really down to earth and could always turn negative moments into positive ones. Though what I found kind of unrealistic was him not getting suspicious or minding about Kan still being friends and hanging with them at mealtimes, etc. (NOT saying it’s impossible, it’s just awkward in so many ways–even if many years have passed already.) OMG, his death was so unexpected. I blame it on Kan for being the “unlucky star” and invited him over. (I wonder why he didn’t turn on the light BUT I guess he had a habit of listening music in the dark like that or just wanted to enjoy the music without turning the light on.)
  • Dickson Wong as Will Chan Cheuk Kwan (陳卓鈞). I felt like he was trying too hard at times or seemed like he was trying to remember the script. I swear, he looked that way. But regarding his character, I guess he was a supportive son at times.
  • Matt Yeung as Jasper/ Kong Sir (江Sir). I thought he was more suitable on the pyscho-killer route than being a cop. Seriously, he was just using his dead girlfriend as an excuse in every way he could to supposedly work hard and clean up the streets. He’s the one who should be cleared away. NOT only was he trying to “clean the street” BUT he was really ungrateful toward his colleagues and others around him. Sure, Kan was quite a busybody and had a hand in fueling Jasper’s craziness even more, BUT his attitude was already terrible before. He treated his fellow cops as “dogs” (his words at one point) and always exude the arrogant aura. I thought Matt did a good job portraying this character, convincing us Kong Sir was very well on his way to the psychopath route–without any help from anyone either.
  • Kenny Wong as Eric. Ivan’s evil persona. Creepy all right. Kenny’s rather challenging role instead of some other typical boring ones? I don’t know. I finally was convinced of his acting in this one. And I actually thought that he was capable of some other roles instead of the typical ones he’d been portraying for a while. It wasn’t like he was new, but he had been passive for a while so I felt it was refreshing he’d taken on this role.
  • Rachel Kan as Michelle. Ivan’s lust and envy persona. Convincing. She made me despise her so bad at first when I didn’t realize she was just Ivan’s personality.
  • Steven Ho as Martin. Ivan’s wrath and violence persona. He seriously was perfect with the rest of the crazy team.
  • Glen Lee as Edwin. Ivan’s pride and cunning persona. YUP, ever so convincing. With the additional makeup, it really aided his cause. And also how his eyes were always wandering that made me think he was always up to something. Cunning indeed.
  • Dia Yiu Ming as Henry. Ivan’s conscience. The voice that got snubbed out throughout the story and eventually disappeared since Ivan was already way past reasoning. (And I so don’t blame Ivan.) I guess Henry was one of the reasons why Ivan still kept it under wraps at times with his persuasion–even if his voice was practically blocked out by the other personalities.
  • Tsui Wing as the psycho-killer who chopped off people’s hands at the beginning. Seriously, he was crazy all right. But TW was convincing in that area.

Couples:

  • Adam and Rebecca. Though I got it, somehow I didn’t buy it.
  • Yu Yang and Rebecca. I felt like she–along with their son–were one happy family all right. They complemented each other quite well with him being the comedic one to calm her down while she was the serious one.
  • Moses and Maggie. A touching story. Cheating aside (though trust me, I don’t like those situations), I loved them together. It was so sad and tragic that no word could describe it completely. Yet their goodbye scene before she turned herself in said it all. Regardless of the things he went and did behind her back, he was firm on not letting her go, i.e. not allowing his other personalities to drop her (even after he got famous).
  • Adam and Maggie. ODD TO DEATH. I understand the purpose of the plot, but I just didn’t buy it. Even from Kan’s side, I couldn’t feel that he cared for her. Sure, he was sad and frustrated when she died, but I felt that wasn’t love. Maybe it was more like he blamed himself for her death. (And he probably did but it wasn’t love.)

Themes/Elements:

  • Multiple personality disorder aka dissociative identity disorder. The Jekyll Bar was the obvious sign of Ivan having a multi-personality problem (.i.e. hinting at Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). This is one of the most popular themes used in any type of movies/TV series. TVB also love to use this one because it’s the most intriguing one. However, they often have like two sides fighting with one another, etc. This time, however, the creators of the show went all out with letting Moses’ character, Ivan, have five other personalities inside him. It was actually more realistic, considering what types of traumas Ivan went through since his childhood. I also liked it that they focused on the physiological side rather than just “capturing the bad guy.” They went to the core of the problems and acknowledged his internal conflicts more, what he was struggling through. AND that they looked beyond the whole “killer monster” thing. It didn’t matter if some viewers might not get it. I was glad they went ahead and kept things consistent throughout.
  • Stage Plays. I might not remember all the literary materials I read in school, but I felt it was clever to incorporate that into the whole plot. It somehow did the talking for the incidents happening around their lives. Like it was correlating itself with the current situations they had to deal with. (It reminded me how the whole radio segments were the narratives for the incidents in When Heaven Burns versus stage plays for this one.)
  • Sand Paintings. I might not like all the quotes in here, but I found it fascinating with the art. I liked the symbolism that was incorporated into the paintings. And it was a refreshing theme in a sense. At least something that hasn’t been overdone just yet.

Controversies/Rants/Whatever:

  • The name “Ivan” and some comparison going on on Weibo (and possibly other websites). I saw some really arrogant comments regarding this AND couldn’t let it pass. Really people? Picking on someone’s name? Or saying that you only remember so and so? Okay, so I get it that people could only remember so much after watching so many series, etc. But to imply you only remember that particular one AND not care for others, go ahead and say it out. Stop hiding behind phrases and trying to dodge when the time comes to clarify stuff. So you thought a certain character was more memorable than others OR something. (I’m guessing since I’m not going to get all arrogant to say I’m right.) YET to play that little ‘game’ regarding names is funny. (There are a lot of common names in this world, do you want to go there? Implying that only a certain person matter? Just because someone was named–or had chosen–that particular name too made them less significant?)
  • Too dark/morbid. Hello? If you didn’t want to be spoiled by the plot summary or whatever, at least watch the theme video first OR see the poster or something. It’s going to be morbid.
  • Too complicated for housewives to understand. Even if TVB had aimed to zoom in on housewives as the majority of the audience, the rest of us out there might want to watch too. AND that’s plain generalizing. Just because they’re now housewives DO NOT mean they could be stomped on and insulted like that. Sure, some might not get the complexity of the artistic view OR some other elements incorporated into the drama itself, but some of the situations occurred in there, they might have more contact with than those so-called ‘educated’ one. (I’m talking about people dealing with emotional conflicts and how losing a loved one OR having to protect someone might land them into such sticky situations.)

The ending? Did Kan Siu Nam die? Don’t you love open endings? (YUP, we’ve all been there, hate it. Yet I didn’t mind this time.) It left lots of rooms for questions. So here’s my interpretation. I think he did die. Because there was only 10 more seconds when Natalie stepped out of the tent and yelled for the others to stop the crank and let him go, etc. YET her voice was muffled by the crowd. Then it zoomed to Angela waking up and trying to look for him. The next part was him in his dream place playing with his daughter for the last time YET they didn’t complete the game. By the time it got to the dream he must have lost consciousness already hence being able to enter the dream realm. After he hugged his daughter, we saw that she was finally gone yet he was the one holding the seeds in his hands. He was finally released from his own illusion of his daughter. I don’t think he could ever let go of his daughter unless he ends up dying. Like it was the final release. Because even when he had become Ivan completely (or so he thought), he kept repeating the fact like he wasn’t Kan Siu Nam because Kan Siu Nam was so pitiful and that Ivan was the one having a sister, etc. SO he rather lied to himself and lived that lie than face the truth after that one last blow of thinking he found his daughter and losing her all over again. His psychological state was already going into the irreversible stage with him taking on Ivan’s role so convincingly hence when he finally found out the whole ‘daughter’ thing was just a lie, his emotional state collapsed at the same time. The whole going back and forth to reassure himself was already ‘screaming’ so loudly that he knew deep down he wasn’t Ivan YET he rather lived with still some hope of having a sister and his life starting anew rather than nothing at all. And what about the ending scene where they showed backstage around his work area where the scripts were pinned here and there and scattered everywhere? The voices reading the dialogues? That sort of was a memorial scene for a once-famous stage performer. Or it seemed so to me.

Recommended? If you like literature, morbid stuff, psychological stuff, AND are super patient, go for it. BUT if you rather go for a comedy and don’t want to think too much after a long day at school or work, DON’T BOTHER. It’s that complicated. I don’t want to insult anyone, but it’s a lot because of how it was crafted–like I mentioned earlier with the pieces of puzzles and all. It would drain you down with so much conflicts going on throughout after layers and layers of deception and confusion were tossed into place.

NOTE: I’m shutting down comments for this particular post because I had it with some of the hate rants regarding some cast members. AND possibly the plot. I get that this might not be everyone’s taste, but purposely dragging it down because of some aspects not related to the series itself IS LAME. I don’t have the energy to argue with anyone or try to prove my point anymore. AND I think I rather focus on bringing the positive side of this blog back to where it belonged–like how I first started it.

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When Heaven Burns

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

Moving on, like my usual reviews, I will place in the whole ‘cast/characters’ discussions–among other things. But will also include the ‘theme’ part this time around as well since I feel it’s essential and actually feel like discussing it more specifically for this series. However, I won’t include ‘couples/pairings’ this time around because I feel that wasn’t the point of the drama. YES, there was love spread into the drama at times, making things even more complicated with relationships. But that was just part of the small piece and I don’t want to get distracted with it for this one series.

Main Cast/Characters:

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

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

Supporting Cast/Characters:

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

Themes:

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

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

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

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

A Great Way to Care

If you ignore the corny English title, this was actually very good. The funniest thing was if you watched this and The Threshold of a Persona at the same time, you would realize the majority of the supporting cast were the same. It might cause confusion also but it was still interesting to see how each portray their roles for both series.

Anyway, first off, what was TVB thinking in warehousing this series? I understand that they aired The Threshold of a Persona because of Roger’s popularity. But warehousing this one was a big mistake. (Or perhaps it was the reason that I mentioned above about the similarity with the supporting cast.) This was quite fast pace and interesting because of the different psychological issues addressed throughout this series. It was surprisingly good because of all the cases involved and it was not draggy since it managed to stay on topic for the majority of the time. There were side stories and romances too but it did not dwell long. It let the cases integrate with their daily life problems too so it was just right.

The Like(s):

  • Alex Fong as Dr. Ko Lap Yan. I was actually doubtful about watching this since I’m not much of an Alex fan or think much about his acting. However, I admit he does have it to pull through, making us love him at times as the brilliant doctor but hates him sometimes for using sharp words. Dr. Ko is actually very kind and really cares for his patients. But he’s harsh toward his interns because he wants them to succeed and be good at what they do. (If he’s not harsh and they rely on him too much or would not work hard enough, what would happen when they become real doctors and get careless, which could result in the worst?)
  • Ram Tseung as Dr. Lien Chi Sum. Having like Ram for his performances in several series, I really like the role given to him in here. He is such a funny character yet there is this apparent morality within him that one must respect. He seems to be really laid-back and could almost be dubbed as being lazy but his sense of sincerity and care given to his patients are really admirable. He takes his job seriously with proper responsibilities of each patient. Although he has his moments of immaturity, it is only within friends and off-work that shows another side of his character. And although he seems weak or easily persuaded with his behaviors, he is very firm on his belief and would not use any other means to gain status over other colleagues. It seems like he does not really care for what is being done at home either or seems careless but he really does care and support his wife in the time of need, not taking one side or another. The conversations they have various times show that he does support her and not just ignore it or dismiss it altogether. He does treat it in seriousness, considering all angles, not like other husbands who only take one side or the other. He tries hard to sort everything out and make it work for his family accordingly.
  • Raymond Wong as Lee Ying Chun. I’m not really a fan of Raymond Wong–mostly because of how he portrays his characters in other series. He is not the worst but I just don’t like his style. However, I must admit I really like his character and portrayal in here. I like the character of Chun because he’s very caring toward patients and would not mind the nature of his job but really love it for what it is. It does not matter that others might misunderstand or look down on him, but he feels happy that he could help others. It is also very nice to see the balance in his character that he would not get stepped on easily. I like the part where he found out his girlfriend cheated on him and insulted him of his weakness. At first, he was all quiet and I was getting disappointed that he might be all talks and would be weakened by all the words. But then it showed that he was only thinking and he actually took the action to sever the ties right away, i.e. destroying all the furniture in the room. (It sounds violent but shows that he could stand up for himself, not being someone’s doormat.) I must give TVB credit for giving him the right image in here. It’s like he doesn’t seem to shine much, just the typical nice guy character but there’s this sense of mystery within him, making him more complex.
  • Vivien Yeo as Suen Ka Bik. For the first time, I feel that Vivien isn’t robbed of a role. It’s about time too. Her character as Ka Bik is really strange at first if you do not understand her. But we, as the audience,’ are lead into her story and what actually happened that led to her self-destructive mode and depression. Although her character is an obese person, I really like it that it acknowledges and associates it with her internal and external conflicts, tying in with the main theme. Vivien was really cute in here (when she actually appears as her thin self again). Not that she wasn’t cute at the beginning but it was hard to tell through the prop. Her character was really bubbly and childish in a way but it was really funny and surprisingly cute how innocent she was.
  • Ben Wong as Chung Kwok Ban. I know he seemed really, really mean at the beginning but I start to like his character in the later episodes. In a way, he just felt that newbies usually have this great enthusiasm but no talents so he worried for Mandy’s safety if she were to jump in and do it without thinking of the consequences (which was true that almost cost her life several times). However, he was still capable of seeing through that she did have what it took to be a cop. He also was not an unreasonable person who didn’t have a brain but only wanted to be bossy about everything. He actually could think up of different solutions and connect the dots pretty well. He cared for others but just didn’t know how to express it properly. Since I was watching like this and Threshold and at the same time, I must say that I was impressed with Ben’s portrayal for both roles. It contained humor and kindness for the other one versus the whole intense character in here with a mixture of brilliant elements. (Must give TVB credit also for giving the right image for both characters, seeing him as a simple cop in the other one yet in this one, it gave more confidence with the suit, plus the hairdo. He looked really handsome in here–if I have to admit it, lol.) Anyway, another interesting character and I think Ben has gone a long way since his very first series that made me cringed when I was watching it and never finished. Although it took a while to actually be impressed with his performances, I think he does work really hard and knows his weaknesses or takes it into a note to improve and get to this point.
  • The friendship between Ko Lap Yan (Alex Fong), Lien Chi Sum (Ram Tseung), and  Lee Ying Chun (Raymond Wong). Although the other two were doctors and Ying Chun was a nurse, the three men got along really well, sharing jokes and seeking advice from each other when in need. The fact that Ying Chun lived with Dr. Ko was funnier. They got into these weird fights about who should have the power to speak or decide at times but it showed how close they were to not be afraid to speak up about matters. Although they talked nonsense the majority of the time and only were serious some of the time, it did show the bond of their friendship and the ability to make one another forget their stress for the time being.
  • The relationship between Dr. Ko (Alex Fong), Dr. Leung (Chung King Fai), and Mandy (Kate Tsui). I think it was a bit funny how Dr. Leung knew them both–because one was his student and the other was his god-daughter, but they did not know it–at first.
  • The interns. I especially liked the relationship between the interns and the doctors in here, except for some doctor who was taking advantage of the situation–that was. I also liked how Nelson (Timmy Hung), Leo (Ruco Chan), and Brian (Ellesmere Choi) got along and discussed cases together, sharing experiences. I did not like Martha (Yoyo Chen) as much although I understand where she was coming from. There were side stories with them too and the randomness between the interns and it got funny at times but not too much as into the whole ‘corny’ zone. Their interactions showed some bonding among the interns with how they were all going through it together. Of course, there were conflicts at times but it did not lose its elements with making it too dramatic either.
  • The guest stars. The guest stars in each case made it interesting and you got to see how each actor/ actress would portray their role in here as well as their characters contributing to the overall story.
  • The ensemble. Yes, I got tired of listing every single character or actor/actress so just put in this one since I really liked it that they were not making someone shine on purpose. But everyone was in it together to make everything work out well. You could feel the realness of it, just normal people trying to work and get on with their daily life. (There was the whole deal with the excitement of the cases but it was there for the purpose of the series’ theme.) I didn’t have the feeling of anyone hogging the camera on purpose, except for one person, which I will discuss in the next section. Other than that, this group worked really well together. (Kudos to the production team for making everything possible.)
  • Not too cheesy. I liked it that there was actually some acknowledgment that it should not be too gift-wrapped. Yes, there were closure and some kind of ending for everyone but they did not put in pairings for every single character. Like how we were misled into believing that Ko Sau Yee (Elliot Yue) would end up with his old fiancee or at least have a great friendship throughout the story with her giving up gambling and all. However, things happen and what she passed onto her son caught up with her. It goes into the whole thing with wanting something to happen versus its actual outcome. There was also the part where Ko Sau Yee lost one leg due to the accident (that was not so accidental) and the internal conflicts afterward. Everything was not perfect but it worked out as long as they learned to accept and look on the bright side.

The Dislike(s):

  • Suet Nei as Ram’s mother. Seriously, I’m getting sick of seeing her in series. Can’t they find someone else? I mean I’m all right if she’s around sometimes but like most of the time? I guess I do not watch the right series to avoid her but her pattern is quite repetitive. Although she tries to shine through her portrayal, it gets super fake and annoying more than attract the appropriate attention. Lucky she’s only around for a while or if it focuses on her too much, I would’ve gone mad.

Favorite Couples:

  • Raymond Wong and Vivien Yeo as Lee Ying Chun and Suen Ka Bik. They had a really cute story together and I really liked the development of it. It was kind of different from other dramas that it actually showed that he didn’t care for appearances and learned to love the real her, not just with words but his actual actions. It showed that because they made it that Ka Bik was really fat at the beginning and he was still willing to help her overcome the worst and gain confidence again. (Other series, it was all about talks about not minding but we never got to see the test. It sounded too much like nonsense sweet words used to reassure one party or the other. But this one just went right into addressing it about minding it or not.)
  • Alex Fong and Kate Tsui as Dr. Ko and Mandy. Their relationship was interesting in a sense because I would’ve never liked it when I first heard of the collaboration–considering TVB’s recent casting with older men with younger women, but I must give them credit for making it work this time around. Actually setting his age at the about right level made it more realistic since making him portray a younger character than his actual age would be too fake. They even addressed and stressed the age difference throughout the series so it was not too fake or seemed like they were trying to hide something. It could’ve been worse if they put in some corny lines like, “Age doesn’t matter as long as there are feelings.” I liked it there was the talk between Dr. Ko and Mandy about all the possible issues although he had feelings for her, which she took it as a joke that he was such a worry-wart at first, actually reassured him with the seriousness of the situation and how she understood, etc.
  • Ram Tseung and Astrid Chan as Dr. Lien and Sau Wai. I like how their team of husband and wife worked together. It was funny how it seemed that he was really scared of her and would leave everything up to her. But they really supported each other when trouble came along. He had his silly moments and she would complement it with her reasoning. It was just too funny with their interactions at times. She seemed to be the naggy-slash-controlling wife but that was just the harsh words she used sometimes to keep him in line about his craziness, like trying to buy a car just to show off to one of the rival doctors.
  • Ellesmere Choi and Iris Wong as Brian and Daisy. They were just too funny at times. They worked at the same clinic yet there was only constant interaction related to their work. However, they got to know each other better through a religious group. It was just funny to see how he sort of turned her down and she was sort of embarrassed but managed to dive out of it safely. I was a bit disappointed that nothing more happened but was happy to see that they ended up together after all. Perhaps, he lacked confidence and didn’t feel it was the right time? Or he didn’t know and he was too busy trying to pass the exams that he couldn’t focus on relationships? Still a cute couple.

Posted (on Xanga): August 7, 2009

Re-posted: Saturday, March 27th, 2010

The Threshold of a Persona

Was I the only one who thought that this was a waste of the majority of the cast’s time? Honestly. I’ve never suffered through a Roger Kwok series before. (Even the ones that he portrayed the villain.) I think every time TVB does a series on the Immigration Department, it becomes draggy because they fail to focus on the main points of the plot. I do not want them to twist some major facts about it to make it more interesting. But I mean they should’ve cut it short if they do not know where to focus on. 30 episodes of this?

First off, the theme song of the series, Conceal (掩飾). I like collaborations, especially between singers for a song but Roger and Patrick? I heard that TVB’s trying to promote Patrick but pick one or the other. Their voices do not go well together. I think one of my favorite ones is Steven Ma and Ron Ng’s collaboration for The Brink of Law and I do know that Ron’s not that good but their voices flow well for the theme song, making it memorable and suitable.

Let’s start with the likes before I get any further.

The Good:

  • The friendship revolving around Kit (Roger), Kei (Yoyo), Lun (Power), and Yu (Raymond). I actually like how their friendship was given to us at the beginning and how other factors influenced their path throughout the series. It really came to the question of if they could pass the test of obstacles or not. It was unbelievable that Yu turned so evil toward the end, killing everyone and destroying everything that dared to stand in his path, but it was not out of nowhere. We could see that he had a strong sense of ambition through his actions and words to others (although ambition is not a sin). However, he easily wavered because he did not have a strong sense of morality. He did not care how things were done as long as it got done and would use others as stepping stones. He would also violate the laws to get where he wanted to be. (It made it double bad because he was a cop.) Lun, although he had a foul mouth at times, he was just very straight-forward and wasn’t good with words. It didn’t mean he wasn’t clever. Despite all his criticisms about Yu and their disputes, he still helped Yu at the end because he valued friendship very much. Kit and Kei were on the same line as Lun that they tried to keep their friendship intact. They always tried to keep in check with one another, especially the part where they helped Lun with getting him to stop gambling. However, Yu broke that bond when he decided to target his friends and not back down from his actions. Their friendship was somewhat typical that one or two within the group would turn bad, but still a nice one to see. The only complaint I have is they should’ve been focused on more to develop the climax rather than focusing on subplots too much that reduced their significance until like the last two episodes.
  • The friendship between Kit (Roger) and Shun Fong (Patrick). It seemed that they were casual friends and co-workers but they did share this special bond with each other. I liked how they often gave each other advice with solving cases to lessen the stress from one or the other. Also, the whole thing with Shun Fong trying to help Kit with patching up his family again regarding Chi Yan.
  • The brotherly bond between Kit (Roger) and Wing (Ben). Although they weren’t related by blood, their actions showed a deeper relationship than that. I liked it that it wasn’t just another typical thing with brothers who were not from the same parents would argue non-stop or would plot against each other, etc. There was an admittance of being shocked or confused about being put together because their parents got married. But the acceptance of it because of their parents’ happiness and of having a family brought them together as brothers. They really cared for each other–not just for the sake of the parents. It showed through many times like Kit always supported his brother and tried to get along with his sister-in-law when Lai Man was being unreasonable. Wing would always support Kit, especially the time he almost beat up Wu Shum to save his brother or trying to stop Kit from shooting Yu and be blinded by revenge. One of my favorite scenes must be the part where they were both in the hospital and wanted to beat Yu up. It was rash of their behaviors, but it showed a bit of their unification and bond. They not only cared for each other but for one another’s loved ones and friends as well.
  • The relationship within Kit and Wing’s family. Although things seemed hectic at the beginning, later on, it seemed like they were really close. The father only asked one question, “Are you okay with it?” Then if the answer was yes, he would make sure that everyone supported the person in the situation. He won’t question otherwise. But it will depend on the person, just like in Kit’s case with his wife. Yes, there were many other barriers that they couldn’t get past but it still counted that they tried their hardest to make it work for everyone. Lai Man seemed very unreasonable and wicked at the beginning but only her words sounded mean because she was harmless for the most part. I liked the parts where she supported Kit’s kid, Hei, when the kid was bullied by his classmates. It really showed that she cared but sometimes her words were sharp. There was also the part where they know that Chi Yan was not really related to the father but Lai Man still told her husband, Wing, to look after Yan, saying that she was still his sister after all. For the most part, their family encountered a lot of problems at first but could overcome it all with their sincerity and determination.

The Bad:

  • Creating the whole story with Shun Sui (Joey Mak) and Kelvin (Ruco Chan). Do they need this too? This reminded me of the character Ruco portrayed in Project Ji Xiang where he landed in prison at the end of the series. However, this time, it was because of other stuff too. To get back onto the subject at hand, I admit that Kelvin was a spoiled guy and could not stand firm when he encountered obstacles, but he should not be blamed for what happened between him and Shun Sui in totality. “He was drunk” was not a good excuse BUT in this case, that qualified as part of it. He did not like her and made clear of that from the very start. He might be spoiled, but he wasn’t a playboy. He didn’t flirt with other girls just for the thrill. His weakness was probably his father since he wished to prove to his father that he could do it, but when his father only delivered lectures and expectations, it made him feel inferior and frustrated at the same time. He didn’t have proper guidance because both his parents were busy or doing other things and I don’t blame them. But he just seemed like one lost guy. He still had a good heart in general. How could they just listen to one side only–aka Shun Sui–and blame it on him for what happened that night? Shun Sui was a spoiled kid (although they weren’t rich), plus she did whatever she wanted. It didn’t matter if her brother yelled at her or not. She was just that way. Why did the mother act super dramatic? She could’ve used all those times she used to run around on her own to look after her daughter instead of blaming the other family after what happened. I don’t expect her to be perfect, but I just hate that she wouldn’t look at herself first before pointing the fingers at others. Only Shun Fong would care enough to yell or look after Shun Sui–yet he was yelled at for being naggy. That was just messed up. Yes, he should’ve handled it better and not yell, but it did not help either that he was very much on his own to care for his sister instead of the mother doing that. So, Shun Sui should take the partial blame too yet Kelvin was dubbed out to be the bad guy without a chance for explanation. When he did say it wasn’t his fault–which it wasn’t–no one believed him. What the heck? Like she was that innocent. She ran away once. (I know holding the past on her head was not a good idea but they should at least consider all angles instead of just listening to her blindly.) All in all, no one had the right to yell at Kelvin in this case, except for Shun Fong since he seemed to be the only one to care enough. The only thing I saw fit in this was that they did not make Kelvin marry Shun Sui in the end. That would be too lame.
  • The draggy parts of Shun Fong (Patrick), Kelvin (Ruco), On Yi (Natalie), and Chi Yan (Toby). I know they (the writers) wanted to do a friendship and another quartet with this group–like how they did with Kit’s group, plus other stuff, but it was just too much with the irrelevant parts, not to mention they didn’t have that good of a friendship to begin with except being random. Maybe that was some sort of bond and innocent friendship at the beginning too. But what kind of friends were they not to trust Kelvin but just jump to the decision of thinking him as a spoiled rich boy? Only Shun Fong could have a say in this or could react fiercely because he was Shun Sui’s brother and couldn’t control his anger. But On Yi had no right since she knew that she was playing around with Kelvin’s feelings and giving him hope. She knew she didn’t like him but didn’t say it. She didn’t agree but not saying anything was misleading. Why didn’t she just say it first or clarify it? But she had to give him hope until it was too late, which made him feel betrayed with the whole misunderstandings, leading to him getting drunk in the first place–and leading to the worst of it all.
  • More romances than cases. This was a crime/ law show after all. Why did I see more of romances here and there, especially senseless ones than the main point? I like to see romance and all too but they weren’t developing with the right couples. I understood the essential of Kit’s story but I hated it that the subplots and other characters got more in the way with dumb stories.

Who got robbed?

  • Ruco Chan. This was personal opinions of course. This was honestly insulting him and wasting his time. I know he has to start somewhere since he just came back to TVB but honestly? Casting him in a typical rich spoiled boy wasn’t helping. This was the effect of watching Ben Xiao Hai right before I dive into this series. Since his portrayal took me away in the other one, but for Threshold, I felt like, “What the heck was that?” TVB probably wanted viewers who do not watch ATV series to get used to him but must they cast him in this role? I see people who act poorly gets meatier roles than this. I just hope he isn’t typecast for these roles in the future. Since it has been TVB’s ultimate habit to cast people in similar roles that it’s boring to the point of dullness that either makes people ponder if it’s just the similar roles or the actor could not act.
  • Raymond and Yoyo. I do not mean their characters either since they are like part of the main cast of the drama. However, I thought that this is like the second time around and they do not end up together–once again. (Maybe TVB was compensating for Roger and Yoyo regarding to Last One Standing.)
  • Ellesmere Choi and Queenie Chu. I know they were leading Team A of the three teams involved in the cases but I felt I rather see more development of their characters than seeing the draggy parts of the other characters. I actually liked this pairing very much but too bad not enough scenes of them. I liked their subtle fights and conflict of interests. Then later they became more understanding of each other and thus came to peace with each other. (We could see hints that they will end up together but still would love to see that part rather than the other relationships in here.)
  • Roger and Yoyo. They were like the main couple but I feel like they were robbed major time because I would rather the plot speed up a bit, leaving more room for Roger and Yoyo to be together.
  • Power Chan. I know he was one of the major characters too but somehow he only had one story of his own–the gambling problem. There was also the one with his grandpa. But it was like other than being their friend, he didn’t have other side stories. It was sad. I don’t mean to give him a romance story–that would be a bonus, but it was like he seemed to come and go for the most part. I rather they create other stories for him than focus too much on other people. He played a great part near the end but it didn’t count either because it tied in with everyone in the story also, not his own story.

Having said all that, I do appreciate the entire cast and production team’s effort in their hard work in bringing us such a series with the major issues and subplots involved. It was really complex on some levels but some parts could seriously do without–like mentioned throughout this review many times already. After all, it was better than A Matter of Customs on some level since the other one was more draggy with revolving around a certain plot too much. I must admit also that this series had a very good cast. It was just that the story-line could’ve done better. They should’ve cut back instead of dragging everything out to the point of dullness. The fact that only the first few episodes were relevant for the purpose of the plot and then the last two episodes were where the excitement kicked in was just lame. Shame.

Posted (on Xanga): August 6, 2009

Re-posted: March 26th, 2010

ICAC 2009: Episode 4

*WARNING*: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. If you DO NOT want to be spoiled, please DO NOT read. You have been warned.

This case was surrounding the idea of the conspiracy between several parties and construction projects.

It started out with Henry (Raymond Wong) and Kenny (Pakho Chau) following closely behind their suspect Lam Gwong Yiu (portrayed by Kenny Wong). He was a consultant whose job covered the areas of finding and assigning building projects to construction companies. It was believed that he was trying to make inside deals with contractors of different construction companies and benefited more than that was of his salary. What was more shocking of the whole incident was he would assign projects or make agreements with the construction companies and then back out after the companies had already gone through the production process, causing a loss for them in the end.

Another man named Lau Gau (portrayed by Lam Suet) was also known to be involved in such acts, including the boss of the construction company.

As they were following Lam Gwong Yiu, Henry discovered of Kenny’s rash behaviors, like following the suspects too closely and causing possible exposure. He reported it to Carrie (Maggie Siu) and sought advice from her. Carrie called Kenny in to tell him that she was going to transfer him over to do more office work, especially research to train his patience.

Kenny felt frustrated and trapped while doing office work. However, he was encouraged by one of his seniors, Madame Matilda Yeung (Mariam Yeung). She also gave him advice along the way as she was taking a break from her latest case.

While that was going on, we learned that Lau Gau’s daughter, Karen (Carolyn Chan), recently graduated and was going to start work soon. Coincidence of all coincidences, Karen soon learned that the industry that she worked in was rather rocky with many twists to it. She accidentally learned of the con jobs her company was doing, which her father was also involved. She was shattered by the information since their pair of father and daughter was very close.

The ICAC investigators finally found enough evidence to bring Lau Gau in and tried to get him to confess. He was hesitant at first but was later convinced to cooperate with the police for his daughter’s sake.

The last piece of the puzzle fell into place when Kenny’s hard-working attitude paid off. He finally took in the advice of looking through the most unrelated piece of information and they were able to capture Lam Gwong Yiu at last when he was trying to make an escape.

The episode ended with the ICAC team chatting among themselves and sharing some food. However, the atmosphere was broken by Carrie’s attempt to crack a joke as the others tried to laugh (although they did not find it amusing at all). It was still a fun ending with seeing the bonding of the team again with Matilda joining also.

*All images were captured by DTLCT