Black Heart White Soul

This series brought me back to watching TVB series again. Since I haven’t watched Roger’s stuffs for a while now and really want to see what this one is about, just like how I tried to watch each time he comes out with a new series. And I was glad I could finally watch something Roger’s in without having to bite my teeth down and trying to just wait and see if it improves. Because this one with its intense theme had worked like a charm from the beginning to the end. Even if there were some sideshows I rather not care for. So I will start with my usual character analysis before jumping into more details of the plot/theme, etc.

Main Cast:

  • Roger Kwok as Matthew (Matt) Ko Chit Hang (高哲行). The complexity of his character just compensated for some of the past roles he had taken. His character in here reminded me of the role for Last One Standing in a sense of his manipulation and cunning nature had gone to the max. Yet the differences were: a) he was driven to fight for his own future and b) he repented in the end. What made it so chilling about his character was how he had transformed from being a pitiful victim to a notable model after his loss and then eventually turning into the scariest villain in the whole web of madness. Roger delivered brilliantly from the beginning to the end. Like there was a doubt about it.
  • Ron Ng as Cheung Lap Fan (張立勳) aka Funny. Totally impressed. NO, I’m serious. I don’t know what happened with some other productions, but this one really blew my mind away. I meant it wasn’t like he was phenomenon or anything in that sense. But compared to his past performances, this one even surpassed my expectations. I meant he was doing fine at one point and then what was with the swinging back and forth with his body movements at times that I mentioned he was doing in Wax & Wane when I was comparing his performance against Forensic Heroes III. Yet this one, the character created wasn’t just to make him shine and show off his good looks or whatever else. This character had challenges and depths, not just showy/cute and/or hot-headed like his typical past roles. He had a lot to work with, considering how he was stuck in a lot of moral dilemmas right from the start, whether with his family, friends, or colleagues. What made me really like his character even more was how he wasn’t reduced to a dumb character later on just because of a lot of complications going on at the same time in the end. He was conflicted, that was true, but he didn’t steer from his righteousness and his duties as a cop. That was what was different about this cop role than some past ones.
  • Kristal Tin as May Tam Mei Ching (譚美貞). There were mixed feelings for her throughout. Yet I must say it was very interesting and complex to see how her character change and grow. Like she wasn’t just suddenly changing to super good but it took a lot of time for her to start over after her past failure and how she had caused trouble onto herself by mingling with someone like Fire. What was even more ironic was how she had changed her lifestyle and had considered what she really wanted to do with the rest of her life yet she was thrown into another conflict. This one, much more intense than ever. Kristal once again delivered.
  • Kiki Sheung as Sin Hui Ying (冼慧英). WOW! At first, all I could say was that. Because she has been typecast in the last few years into housewife roles or just plain scheming woman roles. SO I was surprised to see that they let her portray a cop. Not just any regular cop but the madam. I was glad for that as the plot moved on, giving some sense of freshness into the whole thing.
  • Waise Lee as Henry To Yee Hang (杜以鏗). Haven’t seen him for a long time. Maybe it’s mostly because I haven’t been watching TVB stuff for a while so I didn’t know when he came back. Anyway, scary indeed yet I realized he wasn’t that scary after all. Because he was just a big bully standing on the top of the world, trying to control everyone around him and taking out others who oppose him. And people are dropping their jaws, thinking I’m mad for saying he’s not scary with his destructive abilities. I felt he was scary at first too, but later, when Marco confronted him, I realized Marco was right. Marco said he already been to prison so he wasn’t scared and the person who had to be scared was Henry. Indeed, Henry was soooo used to being on top and giving orders and being in the spotlight. But could he handle prison? It’s a scary place–regardless of if it was only a setting in the series or real life. There was also Matt, whom Henry, couldn’t predict would be his death.
  • Louis Cheung as Marco Ma Kai Yuen (馬啟源). I don’t know what to say about him. I don’t remember watching him before. So let’s say this is the first time. In a way, I pity him. Yet I felt it had to be that way. Maybe it was his own ending because he had betrayed Fire when he obeyed Henry’s orders? Although Fire didn’t die because of him, he had chosen, even if he did try to delay the inevitable. Other than that, loved the song he sang in here.
  • Leanne Li as Scarlet Sze Ka Lei (施嘉莉). Wow, seriously? I swear I tried to get into her story and felt she was really pitiful. She was, at one point. I didn’t really blame her for trying to push Marco into taking out Henry since she was indeed living in hell the way things were. But what shocked me was when she didn’t want to flee with Marco but chose to crawl back to Henry. I guess the person who understood her the most was Henry, not Marco. She indeed was just using Marco after all. Although in a way, it was a good role since it showed that the female side could subtly manipulate in here too, not letting the guys dominate the scenes all the time, but I felt as an actress, she was once again typecast.
  • Jason Chan as Alvis Yung Chi Chung (翁子聰). I was a bit disappointed that his role didn’t get elaborated a little more. I guess it was just a little sideshow to introduce Roger’s character a little more. Not that I want every single character to be involved in the end, since characters indeed come and go, and some just plain died along the way. But it was a bit disappointing to see that he didn’t get taken care of by Matt too. I meant, come on, the guy was a jerk to Matt from the start, so it was strange he was let off so easily.
  • Vivien Yeo as Icy Yeung Man Bing (楊漫冰). OMG, I loved her entrance since the beginning, so cute and funny. I thought she was going to play an important role in here. Well, again, NOT like I want everyone to be upfront and in our faces kind of thing. But I swear Vivien had been soooo robbed since whenever. Yet I guess I should be glad she wasn’t playing some nonsense role like that one time I was watching. Too bad, but can’t do anything about it anyway.
  • Lisa Lau as Gillian To Cheuk Chi (杜綽姿). I don’t know what was going on here but I felt she was a really weak part of the cast. It wasn’t always so obvious and I didn’t look her or any other new people up before watching this. So I didn’t know how creepily she looked like Suet Nei until I saw her. Then when her character cut her hair in the show, Lisa was looking sooooo much like Suet Nei that it got creepier. The fact that they both lacked in acting made it funny too. But not too funny. It was so sad and hard to endure her parts. She was too trying in a lot of ways. Although there were some scenes that could be said to be better, she didn’t impress me at all throughout. Or show even a tiny bit of potential, unlike some newbies that the majority picked on and I was fine with (because they didn’t stick out like a sore thumb, lol). Her character didn’t help at all either. It wasn’t like I would expect her to be the perfect chick alongside the main leads. But she was like so self-destructive at times that made it disturbing, clinging onto Funny like that. I got the part about her being depressed over Sap Zai’s death since she really thought she was responsible because she had used reverse psychology on him not long before the fall. However, the other elements, later on, made it so bad that I didn’t want to bother with being patient anymore. Like how she went along with the others, trying to use death on Funny, etc. Suicidal episodes and thoughts are real psychological issues of this world, but people who used death on others so they could get what they want? Well, she felt bad for tricking Funny, but she went along with it anyway to get what she wanted. So I didn’t empathize with her at all. Although I guess the most pitiful thing about her was not knowing what kind of monster her father really was. Or was that better to not know? Or would she eventually know if she were to wake up one day?

Others:

  • May Chan as Lau Miu (劉淼). Mixed feelings at times. Yet what I admired about her was her loyalty to May. What May really wanted, she didn’t mind. Even if May wanted to stay with Matt at one time, knowing or having suspicions that Matt killed her brother, etc. She was indeed annoying at times and was even overboard with her words, but she was also right in some of the things that she said about Matt.
  • Matt Yeung as Lau Yim (劉焱) aka Fire. Don’t know what to say. I thought he was creepy at first, but later realized he was just a pawn in the big puzzle.
  • Claire Yiu as Yip Ying Sum (葉應心). Didn’t like her an ounce in here. Yeah, I got it that she was scared and didn’t want to get involved and her boyfriend/later-husband didn’t want to see her involved either. Yet I felt that she was really a doormat at times. She didn’t say stuff out yet just blamed it on others as well. Yes, May was aggressive at one point, but she didn’t have to hang out with May. If she chose to be a doormat, then don’t get bitter about it. What made me super mad about her was how she said it was okay that her husband beat her. Well, she didn’t say it like that, but she said she shouldn’t leave him in time of hardship, etc. Yes, it is true that people try to work the relationship out since she indeed did say they had good times in the past, how could she leave him when he was having obstacles, etc. BUT that still didn’t make it right for him to hit her or abuse her in any other way. Didn’t he realize that they were a team and they should work it out, not drenching himself in alcohol and beating his wife? Aside from that, will Claire ever make her way up again? Just wondering. NOT that I want everyone to be the main person, but seriously, Claire’s roles have been just plain whatever since I don’t remember anymore.
  • Becky Lee as Denise Chiu Man Fai (趙敏暉). In a way, I really pity her. I meant she was really loyal to Marco and had to endure a lot. In a way, it was her choice, but I couldn’t help but feel sad for her.
  • David Do as Ng Shing Yee (伍承義) aka Sap Zai (十仔). Um, I swear I feel pity for a lot of people in here. But for some reason, I couldn’t even pity him. He was pathetic in a lot of ways. It made it hard to watch. NOT that I wanted him to die, but I swear it made sense. There were just too many complications going on and he didn’t take actions in time so he was pulled in any way. He didn’t know, but as a cop, he should have some kind of instinct. Or even have the nerve to do something about it. Besides, Funny and Madame Sin were always by his side, why did he choose to trust the other dude to cover his ass than his family?
  • Parkman Wong as Siu Wing Kwong (蕭永光). Um, I couldn’t feel anything for this dude either. Just another pawn in the whole mess. He thought he could get out of it alive–and then gaining some. Yet he was wrong. So wrong.
  • Derek Wong as Benjamin Ko Chit Ming (高哲明). Matt’s younger brother. Sometimes when he appeared, I just want to hit him over the head with something. Yet ironically, he finally turned a new leaf and then his brother was all bad-ass. Although I really wanted to say he was just pretending, Derek’s expression really convinced that he had really changed–even if it was only a brief time in prison.
  • Jennifer Shum as Ada. The poor woman. Just a few days and she would be happily married. OR so it seemed. Yet things didn’t turn out that way.
  • Koo Koon Chung as Kwong King Cheung (鄺景昌). He’s back! I didn’t realize it since again, I haven’t been watching TVB stuff. But I really enjoyed his role and performance in here. It has been a while now. I felt he was the coolest, for a villain that was.
  • Joe Tay as Leung Ching Wah (梁正華).
  • Lau Kong as Ko Lam (高霖). Don’t know what to say except a reunion between him and Roger for a father and son relationship once again. Then I guess I could forgive him for not allowing Matt to drain his retirement money over a hopeless surgery (or so they thought at that time). Yet what was really pitiful was how unsupportive he was in other matters, always siding with the little one. At least that seemed to be true with real-life stuff, considering how at times parents do favor one over the other (no matter how they try to say it was NOT true).
  • Gregory Lee as Choi Chi Fung (蔡子峰). I like how he was involved with the cases. Yet I felt it wasn’t enough. It was more fun watching him at times then oh let say some person I really don’t want to keep picking on. But I guess it was fine since didn’t want to get too random.
  • Momo Wu as Lung (綸).
  • Man Yeung Ching Wah as Yip Ying Sum’s boyfriend/later husband. I just plain hate him no matter how I look at it. I try to reason of course the past May was really scary and unpredictable and he wanted to stay on the so-called “respectable” side of the society. Yet I swear I can’t like him regardless.
  • Burmie Wong as Bonnie.
  • Glen Lee as Hung Gwok Dong (洪國棟). Only appeared a bit and then was killed off. Yet the impact of his death became really large scale later on. Considering how the story moved along to tell us all the pieces eventually with the puzzle moving and emerging.
  • Stephen Ho as Satay. Another gangster role. Nothing new. But contributed somewhat to the plot. At least moved some things forward.
  • Geoffrey Wong as Yip Chi Kit (葉智傑). He got a somewhat cool role in here. Undercover and all. First, I thought he was tossed into this for a random role and once again a not so likable character. Yet his role wasn’t so senseless after all.

Relationships – Family, friends, and romances:

  • Roger Kwok and Kristal Tin as a couple. I wasn’t sure about this couple when I saw the cast list. But I was proved wrong and I was glad of it. They were refreshing and funny in their own way (when they finally become a couple, that was). And cute too.
  • Ron Ng and Lisa Lau as a couple. Seriously? Is this Ron’s worst pairing ever? I never thought the day I would side with Ron or pay that much attention to his pairings. I thought as long as it worked somehow with the plot, it was fine. Yet Lisa seriously was a disappointment as his pairing. NOT talking about character either, but that had gone against her even more with her nosy nature and using Sap Zai to extract information–both regarding police stuff and about Funny.
  • Ron Ng and Kiki Sheung as mother and son. Refreshing for me since I haven’t watched them collaborated in that manner before. But that didn’t sell me until near the end as things got even more complicated. Because at first what I saw was just a typical pair of mother and son with expectations and pressure to do good and her nagging of him as a parent/madam. Yet what stepped past all that was the whole responsibility of being a cop. Then it tied it right back to both, with him having to prove to her that he wasn’t the greedy type already being pulled in by the other side–and also being a good son. What happened, later on, was really tragic but really touching. Both really convinced me of their relationship as mother and son.
  • Roger Kwok and Ron Ng as friend-enemies. Real interesting and nerve-racking on many levels, especially seeing who would win the battle later on in the plot. And for those thinking Ron got robbed with not appearing more than Roger, I swear it wasn’t like that. Anyone want to get technical, go ahead. But I thought how the plot was crafted, it was really fascinating and intriguing to watch and see which side was going to win in the end.
  • Ron and Vivien? Why not? I mean come on! I swear they would be paired up, considering how they came into the department on the same day, and she sort of chided him with a shove to greet the other members as well! LOL! Icy was really cute and funny in her own way and he was just teasing with not letting her know he was their new boss, etc. Then how he dragged her into posing as his girlfriend. But that ended up as nothing. They always like to do those ‘fake turning into real’ kind of thing, so why not? But I guess it would be too cliche with them working together and all. Such a shame though, since they would be a cute couple. They do not have to be focused on so much, but just a side cute thing for the rest of us among all the intense battles in here.

The finale? Very satisfying for me as in intense and chaos, etc. Who was the winner in the end? Kwong King Cheung. Yes, I swear he won. Since he managed to dodge all the prison terms and other things, successfully taking out Henry and completing his mission. Because seriously, the others either died, went to prison or had other casualties. Aside from the intensity and confrontation with Marco at one point, he didn’t have any true enemies, always collecting money and doing his deeds and then that was it. He didn’t need to worry who was after his head, he only sided with money. I was actually rooting for him to win in the madness of all those battles among different forces in here. At least where all the villains were involved.

But kidding aside, it wrapped up quite well. Not only it wasn’t rushed but it paced itself just fine throughout, not saving everything until the end. Although there were even more intensity and conflicts playing out in the end, it had been that way since the start. The whole not knowing who could be trusted and the side battles between different groups. I had to go and read spoilers to see what might come out of it in the end, and thinking it might be rush with Ko Chit Hang turning good again. But it wasn’t too unreasonable when the scene came around. It made sense, considering how he really did love May. It was just that he was too into twisting facts to his own benefit. So when he learned to finally let go (thanks to the nurses who were taking care of him in prison), anything was possible for his case. And if Roger doesn’t win the “Best Actor Award” this year, I’ll hang my hat. (LOL!) Okay, I’ll just hang one since I have several hats, LOL!

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The Smiling, Proud Wanderer 1984: Theme Song

*NOTE*: Video got taken down already, I’ll try to find another version later.

Because of all the hype lately, I just have to hunt down for one of the old versions, LOL! Since people were wandering about music (the heart of the novel), so I hunt around for the song of an old version as well. I just love the song so much. The song said it all. So jiang hu. In fact, I’m tempted to go watch again. Anyway, the song is ‘Xiao Ao Jiang Hu’ (the title of the series) and it was performed by Johnny Yip and Frances Yip.

Brothers Under The Skin

Actually, I just remembered that this was actually my first TVB series ever and not Road for the Hereos like I mentioned before. But I didn’t count it as official because I was roaming around and playing with my cousins when we were little, so didn’t really watch much or remember some of the details. I only remembered that Felix was quite annoying, bullying Liu Kai Chi. But when I watched it properly this time around, I liked it a tad more–until it went downhill that was.

What was so good about it?

  • Felix Wong. He was a big bully at first, but as the series progressed, I really enjoyed watching him. So hilarious yet so charming at the same time. Yes, he could be super mean at times, but I actually enjoyed it. (Until it got out of hand, of course.) Man, Felix’s acting took it to the max during episode 18 with his soul and this guy’s soul being switched! It was just so addicting watching how he carried on the arrogant attitude. (The other guy was good also, so convincing as the honest and kind dude.) He was honestly robbed in this one. His acting showed he was able to do it YET the whole thing was so messed up. I do understand that one could turn the whole show around. It was actually because of him that I hung on ’til the end YET the plot was killing me so badly.
  • Liu Kai Chi. At first, it seemed like he was really honest and easy to step on. But he was just nice and kind. He didn’t get stepped on easily though, which was great. BUT he even gained such an edge that I sort of despise. I didn’t doubt his acting, but his character was turning worse and worse as it proceeded. I think he got influenced by the servant girl so there was this smart-aleck edge to his attitude that I really, really hated later as well. His acting was still good, it was just that his character was getting quite annoying in the later parts of the series.
  • Felix and Liu Kai Chi as master and servant. They were just too funny to watch. Felix would get the upper hand because he was the young master BUT LKC would get the ultimatum later on because he was the one who could read and write better than Felix. Watching them bicker and fight over Sheren was too funny. But too bad their friendship and/or loyalty to one another wasn’t stressed so strongly anymore. It was like they focused on other annoying things more.
  • Sheren Tang. I didn’t like Sheren much in those days, except for maybe one series or so. And it didn’t help that she was really annoying at the beginning. But it grew on me later and glad she wasn’t going to portray a typical screeching girl like others. She was quite brilliant when she put her stubbornness aside. This role also gave Sheren more room for acting. Yet her character was a different story. She was no different than a villain, except that she kept chanting the typical ‘good guy’ mantra. The fact that she used any type of tactics to deceive others made it even more despicable, especially in Helena’s case. Oh yeah, I thought she should’ve used this approach to act her role ‘Zhou Zhi Ruo’ than using that ‘long face’ for ZZR. Since this one made her look so fake with her pitiful behaviors. I couldn’t even stand it anymore. Regardless of how gentle she was later on. Oh yeah, one more complaint, her skills seemed to be VERY impressive at the beginning, WHY did it deteriorate so bad? Probably too focused on Felix? OR had the scriptwriter(s) forget about that as well? Another pathetic attempt to make her gentle BUT failed. It was like the consistency in her character wasn’t even there and the change did not stick as it should. It was convincing at first yet the whole roller coaster attitude later made it like she was two different characters for some reason. Poor transition. Of course the script, NOT her acting.
  • Felix and Sheren as a couple. I didn’t realize how cute they were together until now. Their characters really match wit per wit. YET I no longer cared for them later due to script errors AND many other lame scenes. I wished there was some other series that would be more worth watching since they did have great chemistry together.
  • Benz Hui. Always liked seeing him around. A righteous character yet hilarious at the same time. But like others in here, I ended up feeling I really, really despised him too. Like how he encouraged the whole forgetting Kiki totally and just focus on Felix and Sheren’s wedding. Yes, Felix should marry the one he loved, BUT he did promise to take care of Kiki before. SO it was a scheme to get the antidote that one time, BUT Felix still tricked Kiki regardless. It was the antidote for him, how could he just forget Kiki like that? How could he encourage his disciples’ behaviors like that? He should’ve just stay out of the whole triangle and let them decide or fight or whatever.
  • Benz Hui, Felix, and Liu Kai Chi as master and disciples. I really liked watching those scenes, especially when they conspired with one another to make other people’s lives miserable. It really showed that LKC’s character wasn’t that dumb. He often contributed his ideas for different plots too. I rather they focused on building their good bond more than just the dragging on and on with the triangle. (I got too happy too early because of how fast the Felix-Sheren-Liu Kai Chi triangle ended. Did not realize Felix’s other triangle was even more unbearable.)
  • Benz Hui and Lisa Lui as a couple. It’s rare that I pay attention too closely to older couples in series. But I loved them together in here.
  • Lisa Lui. I think I could only like her character in here throughout because she was supposedly following her master’s orders before but turned good. YET her character was consistent throughout. Unless she was possessed and was doing things she did not want to, other times, she was kind and nice.
  • Kiki Sheung. Another one that I didn’t really like back then but maybe it was because she was given the wrong roles, etc. But this character was really cool. It allowed for more development and allowed her to show off her acting skills. I honestly felt sorry for her for being used so much though. I can’t believe that the others made her out to be unreasonable. She was being used and she was so hurt to the point that she ended up hurting others. It wasn’t a good excuse, BUT I honestly hated the idea of seeing her sinking further like that and no one sympathized with her. I was rooting for her at times since others were getting on my nerves. They seemed to deserve it the way they were leading on like that. I swear she liked Felix for who he was since the part when his soul was switched, she said she liked him for who he was, NOT his appearance. BUT it was lame trying to make her loud and fierce SO Sheren’s character could score some points. Believe me, between her and Sheren, I used to like Sheren slightly better BUT for this one, I was just judging for character AND this time Kiki won my attention. I thought her best choice must be in the temple. Though I hate people who use the temple to hide, I thought with Kiki’s character, I actually felt genuine toward it because she seemed to have understood it already, letting go of her stubbornness and her past.
  • Felix and Kiki. OMG! I didn’t even realize how much chemistry they had. LOL! Though he was trying to con her to get the meds for his master BUT their scenes were so funny, especially how flaky he sounded BUT she still fell for it since she really liked him. It became really sad as the plot unfolded and her background was revealed. I honestly felt bad for her for having such high hopes in his and her future, like at least there was him yet it wasn’t so after she realized her life was more complicated than just being on the wrong side of the battle between her father and Felix’s master. Everything was coming to her at once, especially how she was betrayed by both what she believed to be the truth but wasn’t so–on so many levels. Then I can’t seem to blame her for doing that curse on him either since she sacrificed herself for Felix yet she found out it was just a lie. I’ve never liked the other girl more than the main girl until now.
  • Lai Hon Chi. Though his character was really annoying at the beginning, he was one of the great actors. The fact that he ended up being one of the rare characters that I liked made it even more ironic.
  • Helena Law Lan. A ghost/fantasy related series without her? Never! She was so convincing as always. I honestly felt pity for her. She lost her daughter, went on the wrong approach to seek justice for this world, thinking she could find someone to replace her daughter’s position in her heart. YET she was just a tool for others to use and dispose of so easily. The saddest thing was she soon joined the forces with the others to gang up on Kiki later on as well. Too bad. I didn’t feel sad for her anymore.

What was bad? Yes, there were bad sides to it too. In fact, WAY too many, but a few points would sum it up already.

  • The majority of the main cast blamed Kiki’s character for being unreasonable. I mentioned this above already BUT I just have to emphasize it here again. Come on now! What they did were so wrong! I know that Felix Lok’s character was scheming and they needed the antidote to save Benz. BUT that was messed up with letting Felix seduce Kiki and that almost cost her life. IF she had died, what would they do? I wouldn’t be surprised if they just moved on. They probably have it that she rather died since they wouldn’t be bothered anymore. I honestly hated that they kept saying it was her fault later on. YES, it was she who caused some of those troubles. BUT if they hadn’t used her and then tossed her aside like they couldn’t care less, then she wouldn’t have done what she did. It was really stupid that they insisted on being right and it sounded reasonable that they had no choice BUT to use Kiki. IF they were so good, they could have gone inside and stolen the antidote on their own OR fight Felix Lok to get it. BUT they had to sink so low as to use Kiki like that AND then blamed her for being unreasonable later. They weren’t the only ones having feelings. She had some too AND she really fell for Felix. So how could she just forget about it? An on and off switch? Great… Perhaps, the only thing that made me forgive them a little more WAS Felix saying that he owed her more than he could ever repay so he can’t just leave her alone. At least someone found his heart. YET things just got worse and worse and worse with the lot acting all righteous on the surface BUT using such despicable tactics to achieve their means throughout. The fact that they shrugged Kiki and her father’s attempts to help time after time WAS just beyond tolerance. The funniest thing and most despicable thing was that they would call Kiki and her father in the most respectable tone and act in the most respectable manner when they needed something, BUT when it was done, they would shrug it off and make it like those two killed all their ancestors SO they had no choice but to ‘X’ them out. Ridiculous to no end!
  • Sheren’s servant girl. I don’t know. I can’t seem to stand her. She was rude, loud, and ignorant. Unreasonable too. Yes, she was just a servant and we can say forget it about her being educated BUT it just got on my nerves each time she interrupted and made things worse. What right did she have to issue the orders to beat Kiki up that one time? AND what right did she have to scold at Helena’s character? Helena was really nice and kind to her and her master when they stayed in Helena’s place. BUT what did she get back? The rude treatment and the scolding marathon. So disrespectful. AND gosh, her loudness was like killing my patience. It was like she never knew how to shut up! It was like she was a mute in her past life so now she had to compensate for it. Oh yeah, when she needed to talk to provide info, she didn’t. BUT other times, she didn’t know when to shut up.
  • Inconsistency with characters and plot. It kind of made sense with some parts BUT it was too lame seeing how the majority of the characters forgot what the heck they were saying before. Promises were forgotten just like that even if it was just minutes ago. It made all characters so freaking annoying because they couldn’t even keep a promise. It was like trying our patience too much. NO one kept their promises in here. It was just lame.
  • The greatest sin WAS blaming Heaven. Pathetic attempt to make it tragic. They kept promising, promising, promising and going back on their words YET were never punished. Then the last part, they tried to make everything super tragic with Felix and Sheren’s part. What the heck? They went back on their words numerous times already and kept making Kiki and her father out to be bad when the two helped them so much. Now, they were punished and wanted to blame Heaven, saying that they would fight against Heaven no matter what to stay together since loving each other was NOT a crime? I know there was the difference because Sheren had promised with blood SO it became even more serious YET it was pathetic to even think they were good people in the first place.

The fact that this series had such a good cast made it even more pitiful in the end. The plot had potential BUT the character developments were the worst of it all. I hated it that all the supposedly good people in here were so hypocritical. They just used others to their advantage AND still thought it was just right to do that. Messed up! I said it many times in the past already, I didn’t care if the character wasn’t perfect or had other shortfalls, BUT using others like that was just wrong in my book. Somehow, I was just rooting for Felix Lok to kill them all off. They were just hypocrites attempting to make Kiki’s character bad by acting ridiculously pitiful.

So much for being part of the ’80s classics! Honesty, the worst out of the lot. AGAIN, only the acting was good. The rest were just pure crap due to poor character developments and plot. It couldn’t even hold true to anything when TVB tried to divert away from those Jin Yong adaptations. I swear IF they had focused on the comedy scenes more, I would be less pissed. Since I rather they be random more than acting like super annoying, despicable beings. Because I found everyone charming in those scenes (well minus that annoying servant girl BUT still the rest of the cast made up for it).

I sort of remember how Felix said about TVB slamming some series toward him because he was disobeying? Was this one of it? (Or did I remember wrong?)

The Money-Maker Recipe

Phew! That was quite nerve-racking toward the end. The last few episodes were the most worth-watching than some other parts. The brain schemes and other double-crossing matters were what filled up the rest of the time. Not to mention how Szeto Luen Fai and his daughter turned out all right in the end. Thanks so much to Wing Shan for having such a kind heart, causing a turn of events. Not to mention the last few scenes of Chong made him worth the main character! Great set up between Chong, Janet, and Yu Ju near the end, causing things to turn out perfectly awesome. Bits of here and there with Yu Bo sacrificing herself for her family was quite touching and worth brownie points. Also funny but cute parts between her and Yuk Lun. There was also great scenes of Siu Tim and Wing Shan also. Quite touching with the whole mother-son relationship between Wing Shan and the little boy. So glad the ending didn’t turn out too lame. Cause and effects were applied and weren’t as forced. Not a bad series that was both entertaining and somewhat nerve-racking within the stock market battles. Learned a lot although most were quite exaggerated. Still not bad at all.

Acting/ Performances:

Kiki Sheung as Cheung Yu Ju was just both hilarious and witty. Although she let the fame get to her head in the turn of events, she soon learned from her mistakes and repented herself. Kiki portrayed the character really well–from scenes where she was really nice to slightly arrogant, back to the kind person that she was again. Must say her acting rocks big time versus when she was younger. Very lively and convincing.

Michael Tse as Wong Chi Chong was quite interesting. On the surface, Chong seemed to be the weak and/or unintelligent kind, but he was very smart and was just a kind person who didn’t want to harm others around him. He was a very straight-forward guy and didn’t back down even if the other person was of a higher authority figure. He was very brave in that sense. Michael Tse managed to bring out the character also and he has always been a great actor so no doubt about him. There were also funny side stories, which he portrayed really well in those scenes.

The chemistry between Michael and Kiki were quite odd at first, but it was all right and flowing later since according to the plot, they were an odd pair. Besides, they were quite a team and convincing enough for this type of story. Their interactions were funny and natural towards each other.

Joyce Tang as Janet. Her character seemed like nothing special for the majority of the series, but she was very clever and was the brain for the majority of Ding Siu Ging’s stock market wins. She had the capability to go beyond her skills, but could still distinguish between right and wrong thus always persuading Ding Siu Ging not to harm others for his benefit. Luckily, she managed to withdraw from it in time. Joyce has come a long way and I honestly think she’s one of those that have improved a lot since her first series. She used to exaggerate her characters, making it unbearable, but now she could control her expressions and delivered quite a performance. She really brought out the depth of Janet’s characters–different phases Janet went through, struggles with her father and her loneliness, etc. It was really great watching her.

Savio Tsang and Angela Tong – Quite a hilarious pair and I think this was one of the better roles for both although they seemed like odd characters, there were different levels to their characters–unlike usual typical characters. Savio’s actually wasn’t that classy compared to some of his other roles, but he did quite well with it. It was so convincing that I thought he was really those kind. It was also touching how he changed his bad habits for Yu Bo in the end. And also that through him, Yu Bo knew how to cherish the people around her.

Ellesmere Choi and Toby Leung – Not bad at all. Not sure if I’ve watched other performances of Toby Leung but she wasn’t bad at all as Wing Shan. The scenes between her and her son were very touching; and she managed to deliver out the parts with how she almost went psycho because she lost her son, etc. Her chemistry between Ellesmere wasn’t bad either. I think this was also one of Ellesmere’s better roles although he played more classy roles than this. This role’s depth was worth more than the exterior of others. It could help bring out his performance more than just wear a suit and deliver some lines.

Loved Law Lok Lam as always although he played the hateful rich dude Szeto Luen Fai for the majority of the series. But he did care about his family and would protect them no matter what. He also knew who was good to him and who wasn’t–thus leading him to finally stopping after knowing Wing Shan had a great heart for saving him although she could have died herself because of the situation. His willingness to change was really convincing and Law Lok Lam once again delivered a brilliant performance.

Rain Lau – She’s really getting better at the comedy acts and isn’t going overboard with her comedic scenes like the old days. It was really great to watch her in recent series so no complaints.

Mary Hon and the rest of the veteran cast were great also with making everything seemed lively and convincing for the plot itself.

It was a decent series overall with a mix of humor and intensity among the stock-market as well as daily life people bonding together in times of need.

Posted (on Xanga): October 7, 2008

Re-posted: Friday, April 16th, 2010

Last One Standing

Must agree that this is one of TVB’s best series of 2008. It got both brilliance and suspense. This was an awesome collaboration between Roger and Kevin. Although I kind of doubt it if Kevin was up to it since reading up on news during the series’ filming (even if I know Kevin’s acting abilities already). However, Kevin proved it that he was up to the part. He really did well opposite Roger. This was one of the most intense series that took it up to the max with sacrifices that I’ve seen for a while now–without holding back on several matters, causing it not to be cheesy at all. And maybe they never gave Yoyo a big enough role (except for the conflict in the beginning) that made this series better. (I’m not saying I dislike her since she’s one of my favorite actresses.) But I’m saying it made the rivalry and conflicts between Kevin and Roger rise to another level–with schemes and mind games throughout, mostly brain-work and silent wars.

First off, Kevin as Cheung Sing Hei. I must say this was one of the most challenging roles ever for Kevin but considering how he already pulled off such a villain role in The Ultimate Crime Fighter, I must say I’m proud of him. He has gone past his other roles and portrayed such an intense character. His emotional state throughout were apparent and led us into believing and experiencing Sing Hei’s state of mind as the series progressed. It was so vivid and tragic at the same time. If anything, Kevin should have won an award for this role instead of all his roles from the past years (which I swear he could portray with both of his hands tied behind his back). This was a more challenging role and required more time and effort to pull off.

This was the first time in a series that I enjoyed watching a villain character like Roger so much. He had played villains in the past and most of them were of characters who were driven to the wall and had no other choice but to do some “wrongs.” Those characters usually had to improvise in the end to fit the situation and mostly do rash things thus leading to their downfall and/or facing different consequences. However, in this series, Roger’s character, Tong Lap Yeen, has been planning out all his traps from the beginning to the end. He has never been careless or reckless in his behavior. Every word and action was planned and consequences came out as a result. Sure, unexpected things happened, but he soon cooked up a scheme just as quick to resolve the matter in a snap. He possessed both of intelligence and vigilance toward everyone around him. The fact that his character never shown an ounce of regret, in the end, made it even scarier and suspenseful. It made one guessed even more about his character. It just didn’t end there. It followed a somewhat eerie path that he was one of those criminals who didn’t regret anything–and might take up on revenge or doing more wrongs after he got released in the future. A very well crafted character in fact. One of the best villain characters by far. No wonder Roger was having trouble sleeping at times during the night while filming the series because this was one of the most challenging villain roles for him–especially after all those silly and/or goofy roles he portrayed in the recent years. And he pulled it off to the point of flawless!

Other things I like about this series:

  • The partnership and/or companionship between Kevin and Ellesmere in this series as Cheung Sing Hei and Yeung Kin Yip. Although Ellesmere didn’t appear much (or it seemed that way to me), he played such an important role being Kevin’s ally in here, assisting him in finding out different things on the side while Kevin had to pretend he was on the same side as Roger. They were a great duo because they were actually forced to collaborate because of the murder slate Roger pinned on Ellesmere, causing Ellesmere wanting to bring Roger in for justice more than anything else and bringing out his sense of righteousness also (although somewhat too comedic as how he portrayed it). They were funny as bro-in-laws and also as a team. Always having to bicker in front of others or show signs of disapproval yet always getting together to discuss cases when others weren’t around. I wasn’t as impressed with Ellesmere’s performances before but in recent series and especially in this one, I really like him as an actor and feel that he was really up to different and bigger roles–even if he doesn’t get as much chance.
  • Eddie Lee and Elaine Yiu – I already knew and sense it in the beginning already but it was really nice and cute and somewhat a subtle point to the series. It wasn’t too much either considering the mood set for this series itself. There were also some conflicts between them during intense times, but really enjoy it during the other times and somewhat near the end where they reunite again.
  • Evergreen Mak and Fiona Yuen – The fact that they paired up numerous times already made it feel weird to not pair them up again when they’re in the same series together. But still fun to watch and probably for the last time or so since Fiona has left TVB already.
  • Sherming Yiu as So Lai Fa aka Tseng Shu Leung (Law Lok Lam)’s mistress. No one in their right mind would like the person who ruined someone’s marriage, but in this case, I have to make an exception. And no, I’m not making this exception because Sherming portrayed this role. It was because although Lai Fa was involved with Shu Leung, she took on a stronger responsibility for her son and probably and possibly loved Shu Leung’s character more than Kiki’s character did–even IF he didn’t deserve it. Lau Kit Yee (Kiki Sheung) was just using Shu Leung as a lifesaver at that time after her husband died and she needed a male figure to support her because she couldn’t find ways to stand up on her own or take care of herself–thus leading to her seeking and finally finding Shu Leung, who was not only a restaurant owner but he was single (aka available or so he said). She forced her kids to like him and accept him because he was their financial asset. (He probably deserved it too considering what kind of person he was.) Plus Kit Yee didn’t even believe her kids when they told the truth many times to her (and had been through thick and thin with her since young–not complaining of the hardship). She only wanted to cling on to the man who provided to her every need, causing many misunderstandings and broken hearts. (Although she finally found out the truth at the end and tried to make up for it, it was NOT like it was going to erase everything. IF she had believed her kids earlier, a lot of things wouldn’t happen.) Lai Fa, on the other hand, cared for her son no matter what. She wanted Sing Hei to take care of her financial matters also BUT because she mistakenly thought he had murdered Shu Leung (as everyone did except the killer). She actually treated Sing Hei like family (although they were not related at all since Sing Hei was just Shu Leung’s step-son) when she came to Sing Hei’s apartment and ran into Kit Yee. She said that to Sing Hei, “This is your brother, you have to take care of him.” Although it seemed ridiculous and funny at that time because she desperately wanted to find someone to help her take care of hospital fees for her son to get the treatments he needed, that was a desperate attempt of a mother–in any way she could find–to save her son. She treated Sing Hei like a relative and honestly believed in his word when he said he would take care of things. Her caring nature as a mother was undoubtful–unlike Kit Yee who only cared about money. Another thing that Lai Fa topped Kit Yee was she never re-married again after ten years. (I have to clarify here that I’m not trying to shame people who remarry or whatever, BUT what I meant in this situation was how Kit Yee had used others to her means hence the marriage, NOT because she found love again or whatever. She was just using people. It was a despicable move and tarnished the name of marriage in general. Not to mention how she only cared for herself and disregarded all her kids’ opinions and thoughts. It was ridiculous since she should understand her kids better than that. If she didn’t think something was possible, she should still investigate the matter instead of disregard everything like that. She thought that the kids made it up because they didn’t like him, but what about when they were older? Would her daughter do such things? Considering how obedient her daughter was through all the times.) Yes, maybe people who know about Lai Fa’s past wouldn’t dare to touch her or socialize with her. But she had moved away (aka practically disappeared) until recently but she still kept to herself and raised her son despite all the hardships–not seeking out any other man. (There wasn’t much information disclosed but considering how young and attractive she was, she could find anyone she wanted and knew the right tricks. But she didn’t do it.) She also had a lot of debts, but she still stood firm on caring for her son, etc. It seemed that after Shu Leung died, her life revolved around her son. She looked weak and wishy-washy or seemed that way from some flashback scenes with Shu Leung but yet she possessed a stronger personality than hold the eye. This was why I really like her for who she was. She was NOT perfect in any way, but the fact that she had set out some goals and actually tried to act like a responsible mother made her very brave in every aspect. And to add the last point to this one, I honestly think Sherming Yiu is getting tossed aside by TVB again–although I must say she did well and convinced the audience that she was such character, but how could they promote so many inexperienced actresses nowadays and NOT her? Strange. Very strange but on the other side, she gets more experienced with different roles than just the same, repetitive ones like the usual main leads get.
  • The fact that Kevin doesn’t end up with Yoyo or Macy. It would be too lame or overdone and definitely defeats the purpose. Considering after so many things has happened, how could Yoyo accept Kevin just like that after she found out and broke up with Roger? And the fact that how could Kevin accept Macy–even if Macy doesn’t mind–just like that? He can’t just end up with her just because of guilt and harm he caused for her and vice versa, plus there have been so many conflicts going on. Even if in the future, they should meet again and reconsider, they honestly need more “cool off” time and think about it more carefully of the consequences and/or resolve conflicts of their minds first. But I honestly don’t ever think they could end up together even if she didn’t meet someone else and is getting married soon. He had used her and she also took revenge on him. Both parties couldn’t be blamed. But what I dislike the most was when he did try to withdraw several times, she kept coming back and forcing him to accept her. Yes, can’t blame her for liking him, but she provided the opportunity for him to use her even more. And then when he finally told her they couldn’t be together for real, she would slap him and then go back to him again. He already came clear but she still acted like it was his fault and assumed that he was with Yoyo, etc. Even if he was with Yoyo afterward, they’ve already broken up. What was with that? It was a great choice for Yoyo not to accept Kevin either. She would keep thinking about the conflicts between them all and what had happened. Probably something will happen in the future, but not at that time.
  • And because it wasn’t as gift-wrapped as it was supposed to be with typical TVB series. This could count as one of TVB’s highly anticipated series considering both Kevin and Roger are in it, but it didn’t disappoint like most highly anticipated series would be. Very well scripted throughout and answered all the questions without leaving any loose ends.

Aside from those things, I would like to bring a point up also–or probably yet another point (lol). I usually don’t like to pick on new actors/ actresses but I must agree with some people that Yvonne Ho as Kevin’s sister is a poor choice. I swear she could be his older sister and making her a tad more childish at times doesn’t help either. (I know she worked very hard and shouldn’t be blamed but the pressure put on her to portray this role is somewhat unfair.) At first, I thought she should have swapped roles with Elaine or at least pick Elaine to be Kevin’s sister and pick someone else to be Roger’s sister. However, I could see towards the end of the series that Elaine as Hoi Man plays a bigger role after Roger sheds off his mask slowly to the others.

The only complaint I want to make is making Law Lok Lam the villain for like several minutes as the awful step-father makes it almost insulting although he was convincing as always.

Overall, this was a very good series and for the first time–I wouldn’t mind a sequel–IF there is going to be one in the future.

Posted (on Xanga): November 25, 2008

Re-posted: Thursday, March 18th ,2010