Under the Veil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!