Year 2016 in Recap

Year 3 in doing this. I really want to keep doing this, but I felt that 2016 had been a complete letdown on my part. Granted, it was a terrible year on many levels. It had affected me so much, draining me emotionally that I didn’t feel like keeping some kind of streak anymore. I only did some posts when I felt like it. Then I also tried to pick myself up by the end of the year by trying to release songs translations back-to-back at times, not even saving them for later so cushion posts could do the honor. I just didn’t feel like updating a lot of things. At first, I had prepared a post about a particular pairing, but I felt like I’m better than that. Not to mention how I wouldn’t want to cause even more misunderstandings between fans. At times, it’s very hard to restrain. But in the end, real-life got in the way. I took the actions that wonderful couple took, instead of arguing with senseless people who are full of evil thoughts for them. Yet I will say that can’t be epic like them so maybe one day I will break out of my silence to go at it in one post to unleash all the bottled-up frustrations. Because I know one of those days I will just blow up.

Total Posts in 2016: 77 (6.5% of all time).

January: 18 (23% of the year)
February: 3 (4%)
March: 1 (1%)
April: 3 (4%)
May: 9 (12%)
June: 7 (9%)
July: 14 (18%)
August: 3 (4%)
September: 3 (4%)
October: 6 (8%)
November: 2 (3%)
December: 8 (10%)

Notice that I took the poll out for the stars. Partially, it was due to what happened earlier this year. The other part was because I felt kind of wrong with teasing readers about possible updates if they voted more or whatever. I’m grateful to those who participated and continue to follow my blog–even in silence. I appreciate the constant likes and all as well. I really do. It’s just that I don’t want to be leaving you hanging on that. Sure, I will continue to update for my favorites from time to time, but that will depend on how long before I take care of some real-life matters.

Books Reviews:

Movies + TV Series Reviews/Episode Summaries:

Fan Fiction:

I think the year reached a new low for fan fiction updates because of my distractions of other stuff. I can’t promise it’ll get any better this coming year. I’m sorry that I made those of you who are reading those stories wait for too long. But I can promise you that I will finish regardless of obstacles since I don’t usually scrap stories away when it’s well on its way. I’ll try to do a separate fan fiction update later this year to clarify some matters.

  • Payback – Chapters 4-5

Songs Translations:

Using Rebirth to start the year didn’t help at all. Despite the fact that I was having high hopes at that time. The year continued to dive with a lot of forced positiveness. But what else could I do, right? Hopefully the coming year will be better.

So, what now? I don’t think there is any other choice except to move forward. I want to keep being positive, ignoring trolls in general, and just focus on my own matters. I want to get back on writing posts about Jun Ya and Xiao Xiao Yu. I have been active on Xiao Xiao Yu for the first part of the year and then somehow faded. But I did update more on Qiao Qiao in the later parts of the year. I just have to continue on that track. Not to mention getting back into fanfics, because I seriously miss them. Focusing on just real life stuffs really suck all the energy right out of me. I’ll try to work on a balance. Somehow. Because I seriously miss this blog. What I did do though was letting this blog becoming somewhat official with its own domain. Yes, that was a mini-Christmas present for myself since I managed to find a deal. Oh yeah, how could I forget Janine? Although I did update on her this year, I was somewhat neglecting her and only updating randomly. I also want to get back to Penny. More importantly, I want to actually watch and finish reviewing some dramas I’ve been holding back on.

This might possibly be the last year I do this type of update since I don’t find the fun in it anymore. Maybe resorting back to the typical data from WordPress next year. Not sure. But we’ll see.

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.

Black Heart White Soul

This series brought me back to watching TVB series again. Since I haven’t watched Roger’s stuff 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 phenomenonal 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!

Be Home For Dinner

One of the worst sitcoms ever made. Or should I say it is the worst? I had high hopes for this one, partially because I thought the cast would be smarter than to involve themselves in this. But why should I expect more when creativity just couldn’t win in this time and day–and not to mention at TVB. Then the whole thing with everyone making a living and needed the money so they wouldn’t be fussy about it, right? Though I had lowered my standard of the overall the sitcom since it would be long anyway. Something would get lost–one way or another. Yet I couldn’t forgive the creators of this sitcom for putting in so much lame morality. I’ll elaborate later. But what I would like to point the finger toward right now is the story–at least the general story–was so creepily like When Dolphin Met Cat. Though I started watching When Dolphin Met Cat somewhere along the way of waiting for more episodes of this sitcom YET I could see already the creepy likeness of it. I had finished When Dolphin Met Cat like way before I finished this because let’s see 14 episodes (about an hour each episode) was much faster and easier to take than 100 and something. For one thing, When Dolphin Met Cat was made more than six years ago so that ruled out the whole finger-pointing at the drama for copying. I’m NOT implying that this one’s copying since I have no proofs. Yet it’s just so creepy that there were so many details alike. After finishing the other one, I decided to wait on the review so I could add more similarities before posting it. But I will post the other review in the future with a section of similarities for everyone to read also. However, I must say that When Dolphin Met Cat had a better ending though it had many frustrating plot elements as well. Why? It didn’t force the whole ‘family getting along’ like this one tried to so hard.

The Main Cast (sorry, going to use Mandarin pinyin though it’s a Canto production):

  • Elliot Yue as Zhong Guo Zhu (鍾國柱). His intro scene was very cool with how he was setting up the trap with sending in Tian Kai and Ou Gao Rong to test the food at the restaurant before actually emerging himself, exposing the others in the end. Then there was some foundation–though he wasn’t perfect. It was all right with me that he was a bit paranoid and crazy like the rest of his family. He had some sense of arrogance, which was expected of such a famous editor like him having a reputation, or as they called it ‘having an important footprint in jianghu’. (Can’t translate it accurately but basically it represents his importance.) But all that was lost until near the end when Jessie reemerged, making his character dumb as well for falling for such tricks.
  • Helen Ma as Dou Gui Sen (竇桂森). A kind and innocent elder of the Zhong family. She sure qualified for the naive character in here. I think of all the characters in here, I would understand if she falls for Jessie’s tricks BUT the others? Unacceptable. Perhaps because she has this kind nature that was hard to hate.
  • Stephen Au as Zhong Guo Dong (鍾國棟). Mixed feelings. I really liked his character at first until how he kept pushing Bei Er into mending things with her mother and sister. Then how he handled the whole Jessie thing. SO he wasn’t bright in that area YET the others made him dumber AND then when he found out, he still went through with it? Overall, not bad YET the plot ruined his character.
  • Kristal Tin as Carmen Cen Bei Er (岑貝兒). I always thought she was quite bright and reasonable. Not to mention graceful as well. Yet all that was lost near the end. What a shame. I felt really bad for her with being cornered by others and how they were putting the blame on her, making her cave in. YET I sometimes felt it was deserved, especially near the end when she didn’t fight back hard enough.
  • Yvonne Lam as Mary Suen/Sun (孫瑪利). The best character in here. I swear. It has been a long time since Yvonne Lam was given a great role. I liked it that she had been given a variety of roles over the years YET I wonder when she would receive a role worth mentioning again. Her performance had always been wonderful but this one was one of those roles that really made her shine above all characters. I really loved her witty humor and blunt personality. She was not fake at all. The fact that she was making snark remarks regarding Jessie’s wedding was funny and made her the smartest in here. I loved how she didn’t just force herself to go along with the others during that time. Sure, she would support her family when the situation presented itself. Yet that wedding was too much of a joke for her hence her making a joke out of it (which was what it was really). Can’t say enough about her character. Absolutely lovable.
  • Law Lok Lam as Mr. Ko/Kao. Awhile now that I saw him in a role worth mentioning because at times he would appear but just briefly or so. NOT sure if it was because I couldn’t catch the right one where he appeared more than a few episodes. Yet I remember the last one worth mentioning was for The Brink of Law and interestingly, he portrayed Elliot Yue’s brother (who was later killed by Elliot Yue). Great performance as always, so funny with the comedy yet his serious moments were worth mentioning as well.
  • Jason Chan as Sam Zhong Si Han (鍾思翰). Somewhat spoiled at times. Yet he had a good heart overall. He was quite determined and somewhat stubborn like his father. Acting? Can’t say much at this point except he was great eye candy. But then again, it was not like he exaggerated to the point of intolerable since his emotions were seen through his eyes. He needs to take on more challenging role (well, if he’s allowed) to see what else he could do with. Hopefully, we would get to see it.
  • Lily Ho as Qi Qi (琪琪). It was a bit odd to have her introduced so far into the story yet I guess that left something new for the audience to discover. Not too bad with her being so graceful and knowledgeable about various things. I thought Lily had improved with some of her past performances, especially how she had to carry such a role. Not the best but was still convincing enough.
  • Matt Yeung as Tian Kai (田凱). Matt finally made his way up again. Because I could remember the days when he was in The W Files playing a major role. I haven’t really watched him in recent years OR watched enough TVB series to know. Yet this could be an important role again. I had mixed feelings toward him one time or another. Mostly because of the plot that impacted the character. Yet I must admit he was a good friend to most people in here.
  • Katy Kung as Zhong Si Ya (鍾思雅). I don’t know. I wasn’t into her character at first after the whole incident with messing with Sam’s laptop and destroying valuable information. At least almost. Yet later on, her character somewhat grew on me when she finally grew up and was serious about work.
  • Raymond Chiu as Ou Gao Rong (歐高榮). Very clever. He talked less and did more, making him so mysterious yet cool at the same time. So Raymond doesn’t have the look yet he’s very charming and witty in his own way, making his character very convincing. I liked how he was always doing things silently and never took credit for his work. He was not arrogant either and not abusing his power like that one time when the others thought he was Mr. Ko’s son. Probably because of that hence Mr. Ko trusting him to do so much.
  • Oceane Zhu as Susan. I thought she was quite clumsy and somewhat fussy at the beginning. Yet I found her quite lovable later. Though she seemed weak on the outside but was quite strong inside. Like how she found out her boyfriend was cheating on her but kept her head high and continued on, not coming back to him after he begged. Also, she was very considerate of others though she could be so girly at times too. A different role for Oceane comparing to her role in Twilight Investigation yet her performance didn’t disappoint at all.
  • Queenie Chu as Qing Qing (菁菁). At first, I found her character so cool and multi-dimensional but due to the plot that had dragged some of the characters down as well, she sunk along with the others, coming out quite disappointing as well. I rather they brought back more of the Lolita persona to make her expose Jessie and more than have her NOT speak up at all–just like some others. I liked how she was yelling at Li Chun that one time at the restaurant. Why not use it later on too? But then again, the script sucks so it didn’t matter if she wanted to or not, she couldn’t control it. It was too unreasonable that she became quiet and somewhat a doormat again later on. Didn’t make sense. Yet it didn’t mean I disliked Queenie. Still convincing.
  • Celine Ma as Bai Mei Gui/ Rose. Never doubt her in the acting department. She made it quite convincing with her performance throughout. How she was so fierce and somewhat of a hateful person to a more likable one near the end. Though her straightforward personality still stood tall until the end, which made her different from some others, she became more tolerable as in her habits and how she treated others. She had always taken care of people around her yet she had tuned down on some bad habits. I liked how she was the other wise voice in the whole Jessie thing since she hated that too and didn’t even have a hand in it, even encouraging the cancellation of the wedding. It wasn’t like she was evil YET she just hated fake people.
  • Glen Lee as He Jia Ming (何家明). Odd and silly at times yet found his story touching with how he set up that one skit with the others to make his ‘Uncle’ proud.
  • Becky Lee as Cen Hai Er (岑海兒) aka Tang Jing Jing (唐晶晶). Mixed feelings. I didn’t really think much of her at the beginning but soon got used to her. Then the plot ruined it by making her sounding so unreasonable and inconsiderate with pushing Bei Er as well. YET I rather they focused on her bonds with the others at the newspaper place. Because I quite enjoyed her scenes with others at various points, especially the part where she tried to help Jia Ming with the whole meeting his ‘Uncle’.

Others:

  • Geoffrey Wong as Brian. It was a shame that he was the scapegoat for some other cause. I quite liked him and wonder if he would get any other serious role in the future aside from these comedic ones. Not that I don’t enjoy it but feel it’s a waste. Is this the price of leaving ATV? Like ATV was doing anything at that time but still. A shame.
  • Steven Ho as Liu Li Chun (劉立春). I really hated him at first for cheating and ruining his future like that. Yet I found him the wisest–among all those that were cheated and hurt by Jessie–later on. Because he was the one who asked the whole question about whether it was worth it to keep it from Guo Dong and all. I knew it wasn’t just some side jealous rant then because honestly, he had gotten over it and he was convincing in that area.
  • Griselda Yeung as Jessie and Rachel. I must say that it was quite convincing with her playing both roles of Jessie and Rachel since I had a feeling they were different characters. And sometimes I even wanted to side with her character, Jessie, more than the main people because they were seriously dumb enough to fall for it OR not even expose her so why not, right?
  • Mannor Chan as Ann. I found her somewhat despicable. I don’t know why she would still have face to ask Bei Er for favors later. OR even talk and chat like normal with Bei Er. So she admitted she spoiled Jessie hence the consequences now. YET she kept doing it and acted like everything was normal later, which was even more unacceptable. But I guess some people are just too forgiving OR WAY TOO NAIVE so she was able to pull it off as well as her daughter in playing the pitiful card.

Favorite Characters?

  • Mary Suen/Sun. I said it in the other section already and I will say it again, the only intelligent person throughout regardless of the obstacle. Very brave, blunt, and witty in many senses. Quite graceful as well. Never cease to surprise me with her jokes. Yet she always meant well. But she was never fake at all.
  • Bai Mei Gui/Rose. Another favorite character because of her straightforward personality and somewhat intelligent and witty nature. I guess for her case, it would be called cunning more than intelligence YET I felt she was a lot smarter than some characters in here so I clap her on. Except for that one time when she was trying to pull Bei Er and her family together too BUT I sort of forgave her for that because the positive just won over the annoyance.
  • Mr. Ko. YES, hilarious at times yet he was quite clever also. Well, if he didn’t let his emotions get in the way. I also found it funny that he and Ou Gao Rong were in it together that one time, not clarifying about their father and son status. Priceless actually. Another funny moment was how he was doing all the chores for the Zhong family and acting like one of their members, LOL!
  • Ou Gao Rong. An intelligent person and quite capable hence the trust and many assignments bestowed on his shoulders. Already said most of the things I want to say so don’t want to be that repetitive.
  • Susan. Need I say more? No. I sort of forgave her participation in the whole wedding because honestly, she just wanted to participate in the fun and didn’t know about the whole conspiracy–unlike some people who had all the pieces of the puzzle but clammed up.

Sadly as it was, I narrowed it down to only these choices. Why? It seemed like the majority had disappointed me immensely with their stupidity at one point or another. NOT that I want them to be perfect. Yet the scriptwriters ruined it by making a lot of things so complicated when it was just plain common sense. NOT to mention how half of them were like drinking some kind of stupid potion throughout or something. Like they were too eager to torture themselves that sometimes I just want to side with the villain just for kicks.

Pairings:

  • Elliot Yue and Helen Ma. Odd couple, considering their characters. Yet I found it touching at various points to learn how they met and fallen in love. Not too mushy yet could be a guide for their children to understand the story behind their past and respect them more as a couple.
  • Kristal Tin and Stephen Au. I was so rooting for them but halfway through, I got turned off. Mostly because the plot had ruined their foundation. Whenever they were together later on, I really liked it, but I can’t stop thinking about the stupid details that went along with that. Too bad.
  • Kristal Tin and Geoffrey Wong. Another collaboration as a couple. I really, really liked them as a pairing since watching No. 8 Bus and TVB had really used that to their advantage each time trying to find some pairing with Kristal. YET too bad he always get the toss aside in here.
  • Law Lok Lam and Yvonne Lam. Man, the hilarious older couple in here. I really loved how their story started and developed in the later parts of the story. Many hilarious twists and turns as well as when the serious issues were addressed to test their relationship. It wasn’t just about love but respect. YET I was super convinced of their odd chemistry, not just because of the plot.
  • Jason Chan and Lily Ho. Was this a resurrection since their collaboration in Pages of Treasures? I must admit it was all right in the other one though I do not remember much anymore. Had mixed feelings with that series so I tend to tune the rest of the stuff out at times. But not bad since it was kind of cute with them and somehow, I liked how their relationship matured over time. Then there was the whole idea of her being all talented and graceful. Call me a sucker for it but yeah, I don’t mind their pairing.
  • Matt Yeung and Katy Kung. I was so glad that they paired up instead of Tian Kai ending up with Jing Jing. I don’t know. It made it somewhat cute that he was with his ‘xiao shi mei’ AND that it was fun watching them bicker and then working together at times.
  • Glen Lee and Becky Lee. Strange pairing but whatever works. I guess they had to gift-wrap everything hence letting them end up together as well. Not to mention how they had a good musical background and would be suitable, etc.
  • Raymond Chiu and Oceane Zhu. They were so cute together. I loved how they were friends at first and then developing into a romance. A typical cute love story. YET I didn’t mind because it fitted with her bubbly, sucker for romance character and his somewhat prince in shining armor one (even if he was just an average guy to some people). I also liked how their characters eventually got married in the end and shared the happiness with the rest of the characters, not just forgotten like that. (Or I would rant even more. NOT kidding here.)
  • Tsui Wing and Celine Ma. So unexpected since I thought Rose would end up alone in the end. YET that was so cute and funny in a sense. I guess her good heart paid off since she was able to marry a person she often dreamt of, having wealth and all. And I swear it was so deserving because she was kind enough to hang out with the kid and helped the kid, etc.

What was disappointing? Heaps actually, but to break it down, here goes:

  • The family conflict with Bei Er, Hei Er, and whatsoever. I don’t know who was right or wrong YET they had implied and stressed and even wanted to shove it in our faces with the importance of family–regardless of the details throughout. I seriously was sickened by the fact that they (the scriptwriters) paved it so lamely. I got so confused with all the recounts from different characters that I eventually gave up altogether on it. However, it never made sense how they put the blame on Bei Er’s father. I swear, it was so weak, considering how the mother left with Hai Er already. I meant okay, she explained that she knew the father loved Bei Er more hence taking the risk. YET it didn’t make sense because of possibly the fact that we were so used to the flashbacks of how Bei Er’s father was so sincere and nice and kind. OR it was her point of view. YET I just didn’t trust the other two, mostly because their portrayals were too poor or too fake OR something. At least at that point. I just wasn’t convinced. Then came that whole idea with how everyone was shoving and pushing for Bei Er to accept her mother when she had to overcome so much of finally realizing that Jing Jing was actually Hai Er and more. They were pushing her too much that I felt it was too sickening. AND I didn’t see the logic of just because “family is important” that they should push her. She needed space and time. Even if she remembered later and came to peace with her past, but I wasn’t convinced either. Considering how the others kept blaming Bei Er IF she chose to ignore them. They kept scolding her for being cold-blooded, etc BUT who the hell abandon her ages ago? How could she accept them in two shakes? Who’s the cold-blooded one now? I couldn’t help but associate this to Pages of Treasures in relation to Abbie (aka Shirley Yeung’s character in there). What the heck was that? I just couldn’t accept their twisted morality of forcing others to accept and admit when it was so weak with the setup of the plot. Then there were the whole recounts with blaming on the ‘China Town’ in the other country being close-minded and not understanding the situation with the Cen family. How lame was that? I don’t know. But it made me feel more suspicious than ever.
  • The love-hate thing and whatever else with Zhong Guo Dong and his ex-wife and the people involved. The other thing that made me want to throw things at people in here. I knew by the time that no one was saying anything that it would be up to Jessie to leave before anyone else made a move. Seriously. That was soooo bad AND stupid of everyone to think they should just hold it in. After all, Guo Dong was right that his only true friend was Mei Gui. Though afterward, he still chose to marry Jessie, which was LAME. So messed up YET Jessie wasn’t exposed properly that made me even more pissed. She was so scheming and manipulative yet the others tolerated her? It was like they thought it was okay that Guo Dong lived with such a psycho? SO fake. Seriously, in real life, IF you find out someone had harmed your family member in the past and was back to do it again, would you let them? Regardless of the reason, you would be more than protective. It doesn’t matter with past guilt OR not. You start putting up some radar–even IF you want it to work. What was even more despicable was how dumb Bei Er and Qing Qing were for not saying anything because they were the ones having pieces of the puzzles. I think after all that was done–wrong or what, Li Chun was smarter than the rest of them since he was asking Bei Er that one time at a cafe place about how they were letting Jessie return to Guo Dong’s side AND how if Guo Dong hadn’t been so successful now, would she jump in with him again? It wasn’t like she wasn’t rich herself. But it was like it was something for her to grip on, like seeking a perfect or successful person versus a loser such as Li Chun now (or so people would dub him as). Talking about Li Chun, that was the other frustrating thing about not exposing everything since Jessie manipulated the details, making it like she’d mistaken Li Chun for Guo Dong one time BUT it didn’t seem so with Li Chun’s recounts and some details here and there. HELLO, sometimes I just want to side with Jessie altogether and let her bring the rest of them down since they were so dumb.
  • How stupid people were. This could be combined with both of the choices above YET I want to emphasize even more. Anyone have common sense? I don’t believe in real life people would still react that way. Like loving to be someone else’s puppet and torturing themselves and others around them like that. It was like I rather side with the villain than them at times, especially the Zhong family and eventually Carmen as well as some others at the cooking classes/dessert shop.

What needed to be focused on more?

  • The main theme. YES, they still talked about food and all. YET somehow it got lost along the way. Though it resurfaced again through different stories, I felt it wasn’t developed enough.
  • The newspaper people. I rather they expand more funny stories or random ones so we could understand some of the employees there more than so much on family or love dramas of the Chung/Zhong family. Sure, they were the focus of the sitcom YET it was too lame when they were too focused on with trying to resolve some matters. I rather the scriptwriters went toward the random/nonsense route than attempt to teach us a bunch of twisted morality stuff.

Recommended? If you want to waste your time, go ahead. If you like their twisted morality story, go ahead as well. NOT that I disagree with the essence of it, but I hate how they approached it. Why in the world did I watch it and even continued if I thought it was so terrible? Typical me wanting to see if it would improve. Then there was the whole ‘good foundation’ at the beginning with some witty exchanges here and there. But I was wrong and it didn’t improve at all–despite the fact that some side stories were worth watching more than the ones involving some major characters. Then there was the whole thing about curiosity like I said before, wanting to see what else was similar to When Dolphin Met Cat and all.

Only You: Episode 2

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This episode continued with Mandy’s job search. She was so picky, LOL! Well, I guess she had a point regarding the requirements with knowing how to drink, please others, etc. It began to feel like some special “socializing” abilities rather than just the normal professionalism that employees had to acquire for their job titles. Anyway, Mandy soon met with her mother at a restaurant for tea time (?) and found out that her mother had set up a meeting with the matchmaker, Chong Sze Tim. (Yeah, the same matchmaker and wedding planner who helped Dee with the whole wedding arrangement in the previous episode.) Mandy was still hostile–or at least semi-hostile–toward her while exchanging some words. Her mother of course interfered. However, Mandy’s attitude changed when the subject changed to that of wedding arrangements. Yup, she had already talked to Ling regarding the whole making money out of the wedding business when they met up for lunch, so it was only right that she snatched at the opportunity when Madame Chong brought it up. Like it was an easy road since her attitude just killed everything and Madame Chong wouldn’t want to commit suicide by accepting Mandy as a student. LOL! That would lead to major blood pressure problems in the near future. On a personal note, I don’t know, but I liked Yoyo’s character so far. It was kind of different from her previous roles. It was not too good, too dumb, too kind, or too cruel. There was this mixture of caring for her family yet she had this attitude that just drove people insane at times. In other words, NOT perfect yet not completely hateful either.

To steer away from that side of the main cast to the other side, LOL! Yeah, so I didn’t mention about Madame Chong’s family, right? So here goes. Evergreen Mak and Kristal Tin were part of that clan. Then there was their son Zhong Chung Leung (Vin Choi)–more like stepson to Mrs. Zhong. There was also Ma Hui Ching (Natalie Tong), who was Madame Chong’s daughter. In a way, they were a family business. In the previous episode, we found out that Chung Leung didn’t transfer his tuition fees to Hui Ching so now he couldn’t go to Australia to study because he had enrolled somewhere else to pursue a girl. His father was more than mad but couldn’t do anything about it–even after some major persuasion with the school. To top it off, they had another thing to worry about. Their main photographer, Summer (Kevin Cheng), was not back yet because of delays and couldn’t make it in time to take pictures for one of their clients. Mrs. Zhong immediately came up with some medical excuse for Summer and tried to edge out of it. Nice? It seemed that Kevin was portraying somewhat of an irresponsible person–for once? NOT sure, but we’ll find out in a bit.

Because of Summer’s inability to appear at the time, King (Lai Lok Yi) tried to cover for him by offering his service when he was turned down by the customers since they did not trust him–though he was supposed to be the backup photographer and was more than qualified to help them with the photo session. After much frustration, he left again. So much for being nice and trying to help, I guess.

On the other hand, Madame Chong was offered a case to help this one family with an upcoming wedding but one of the requirements was that she was still happily married. This was the thing that couldn’t be fulfilled but Phoebe (Kristal Tin) jumped in to say that it was true and used crafty words to seal the deal. Madame Chong couldn’t turn it down so she had to seek out her disciple to handle the ceremony. She had no idea that her loud mouth disciple was the reason for her downfall. Or what seemed so because the disciple engaged in an argument with Lady Wong and accidentally spilled the beans regarding Madame Chong’s past. That got into the tabloids and caused Madame Chong’s reputation. I seriously did not blame Phoebe in this case since she wasn’t totally lying. Yes, she was manipulating the words to make it sound good yet she wasn’t bashing or picking on Madame Chong. She was just using good words to make Madame Chong’s reputation good. I blame the nosy disciple for not knowing when to shut up. Anyway, Madame Chong went to their client’s office to try and explain but the rep wouldn’t hear her. Luckily, the boss came and told them that she would see Madame Chong. After some explanation, the lady boss said that she didn’t care about Madame Chong’s past but admired her for her talents and wanted her to arrange the wedding and be there for the ceremony.

Back to Mandy’s side, Mandy somehow landed a job since it was Ling’s cousin’s wedding. She tried to pull it off but failed major time because she wasn’t paying attention when Ling was passing on information to her. Despite her crafty words and manipulation, she wasn’t convincing. But coincidences of all coincidences or maybe it was just planned that way so the plot would unfold later, but Madame Chong’s reception was also at the same hotel/restaurant. So they went head to head and had some exchanges. Mandy was still the typical Mandy, arrogant as always, LOL! Madame Chong didn’t want to argue with her anymore. Yet the little respect Mandy showed toward Madame Chong was letting her get into the Taxi first. But Madame Chong refused and so Mandy abandoned her courtesy and headed home. Yup, Madame Chong was shaking her head.

The episode ended with Mandy sitting on her bed and counting the red packets. It showed that she had failed major time. Need to be more convincing. If only she would know that she still had a lot to learn.

Only You: Episode 1

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After watching the first episode, I must say I was impressed. It might be too early to say anything regardless because I’d read some spoilers but I was willing to stay positive–for once (at least recently). This series was, of course, about weddings or more like wedding planning. Well, it could be counted as everything surrounding weddings, such as preparations–as mentioned above–and the hardships they’d gone through for it. The reasons for such a fancy and glamorous preparations could be for the sake of saving face–as in this case, but it actually turned out to be a different reason and could account for a whole different reason in the end. I must admit I was thinking along the line of dragging formula as the wall crumbled when Mandy (Yoyo Mung) exclaimed out her frustration and spilled the beans about her recent job loss. But the whole event turned around all right in the end. It seemed that this series would be a case per case thing instead of dragging it out with the whole jumble of stories like in the past series. Then they would save it for everything to resolve in the end or near the end. But it was not. I like this approach better when it comes to theme-related ones. I must say I was not much of a fan of some of the cast members but watched anyway since I at least liked some of the cast. Glad I carried on anyway because I liked the development thus far and how the characters were–even if they seemed annoying at one point or another. It was more on a serious level than some of the recent nonsense ones. However, you shouldn’t dive in if you just can’t stand the main cast because you wouldn’t enjoy it anyway. I was willing to continue because the plot had convinced me somewhat and how the characters promised some sense of variety. There was, of course, the overall plot that tied the main cast together but most of the couples in here were probably appearing as guests for each case the wedding planners do. Can’t wait to see what else would happen.

So anyone wants spoilers? Well, the first story started with Mandy’s family preparing for Dee (Eddie Lee) and Rainbow (Leanne Li)’s wedding. Dee and Rainbow only wanted a simple get together party among family and friends, but it had turned into a whole catastrophe because Mandy wanted to show off to her other relatives and save face for the family. Then there was also the whole thing with their mother (Suet Nei) wanting to do a traditional wedding after witnessing a professional matchmaker and wedding planner going through the ceremony with a relative’s wedding. This professional matchmaker was of course portrayed by Louise Lee. She was pestered by all family members before and after Mandy’s job loss, causing quite a nuisance for her. However, upon hearing the mother’s confession of how important it was to her to witness a traditional wedding and bringing luck toward her son and future daughter-in-law, the matchmaker was touched and proceeded to do her best directing the mother throughout the preparations. On the other hand, Mandy was very frustrated with the job loss that she finally took it out on her brother after finding out about the huge bill from the wedding pictures. So all parties were on the out that night, shutting themselves in their rooms, except for the mother. Their mother was worried and wanted to cancel all arrangements with the matchmaker the next day because of Dee’s rude behavior and hostility. However, after some encouragements and persuasions, she proceeded with the planning. That night, Dee returned home to see his mother in the kitchen–more like just a glimpse of her in the kitchen–and mumbled about the nuisance of preparations in his drunk state. Yet the next day Dee finally understood his mother’s feelings toward the whole thing. Even Rainbow was touched by what her mother-in-law had done for her–and cooperated with the arrangements throughout, no longer complaining about the unfairness of not being able to plan out her own wedding, etc. Another touching moment occurred when Mandy produced two watches as the wedding gift for her brother, which Dee remembered the promise Mandy had made to him since they were still young. After that flashback, Dee tearfully said that Mandy had remembered and Mandy returned by reminding him that she would never forget what she promised to him. See what I mean with a touching episode? Well, who knows what else could happen in the future but that moment really brought meaning into the whole theme. It brought forth more hope for weddings and/or marriages. (I’m a sucker for it.)

No. 8 Bus

Not a disappointment at all. This series started out as a typical goofy comedy but weaved itself into the intensity of family conflicts with business rivalry yet never losing its elements of comedic touch at all. There were many subplots that led itself into many climaxes and tied itself back to the major plot. I really enjoyed it and was glad I picked it up in the first place. This was so goofy at the beginning with the main characters and seemed so despicable and intense with some other characters playing mind games, but later it turned into something more meaningful. I really liked it that there wasn’t the main focus on anyone in particular but there were many characters in here and they each had their own story. The realistic element of it was there was no main point (like said above) but there were only people who followed their own goal and trying to survive. Their paths leading them to expected accomplishments or for some others–consequences and things might or might not work out in the end.

Several notable performances:

  • Nathan Chan as Lo Ping Ping: Contrary to many of his serious roles–Who Is The Winner was among them–he played a very humorous person in here who had a very smart-mouth yet a kind heart deep down. Nathan really brought out Ping Ping’s character very well and also with charm, making us both liked and hated him at the same time. (Heard there were some problems with him and ATV in the past, but I guess they reconciled or possibly a misunderstanding so they reached some sort of understanding to collaborate again?)
  • Anita Lee as Veronica Xiang Huan Zhu: Anita-although she had played various comedic roles too, but this one must top it all since she took her arrogant as well as girly-girl side to the max, making us laughed and cried with her. She did really great as the vain girl in the beginning who only knew how to dress up and look pretty, a spoiled rich girl (although she did have a kind heart) to a mature and clever young lady. It was honestly really hard to portray her since there were many scenes that were very, very funny and ridiculous but she pulled it off very well. (And of course, I enjoyed the fact that they poked fun of Huan Zhu Ge Ge thing since it made my day with all their comments referring back to that series and this series’ character.)
  • Kristal Tin as Crystal Shen Jing Jing: She first appeared as a somewhat irresponsible mother and an easy person, but there was a story behind it all and it really brought out her character as to how she portrayed it. She didn’t seem to care much about anything and seemed to love money more but deep down, she was someone who really valued friendship and family–although she only had her baby. Kristal did great as the strong-willed person who could turn into a weak mother at times. And she did very well with the comedic scenes also. She was probably the best-supporting actress in this series that did really well (aside from Wong Oi Yiu) who had made it very worth watching her and how her character unfolded and developed throughout.
  • Cheung Kwok Keung as Song Man Ting: A typical cunning and/or scheming character that we often saw in those business rivalry movies or series, but his character seemed much more than that. It first showed him as a greedy guy who had only one goal in his mind–to conquer all aka the Xiang’s business thus causing him to go against Lo Wah Long (Lawrence Yan). However, there was this whole thing with his family and how much he cared for them. He had this soft side that said a lot more about his character. Although he seemed harsh and cruel, he cared a lot for his brother and really knew his benefactors aka the Xiang family (especially the grandfather). He worked really hard for the company and probably the most deserving among those fighting for the CEO position. An excellent performance from Cheung Kwok Keung since he seemed to bring out his character really well with the cunning and deceiving nature with a gist of cleverness as well as his caring side as the oldest brother and also the lonely man fighting for power. The most tragic part must be knowing that he only had so many months to live and working so hard to make it happen, reaching his goal of introducing his family company into the market. There was also the whole thing with trying to get his brother, Ben, to turn his life around. However, the saddest part must be knowing Ben’s betrayal and continuing on until the very last day. His death was really a turnaround in some people’s life also–most importantly Ben and probably Sam also–for taking it so seriously in helping the family business expand.
  • Ricky Chan as Ben: I have always liked Ricky Chan after watching Project Ji Xiang and this was probably before that but it really showed that he was up to his part in acting as the rich playboy who only leaned on others and cared for nothing but money-and then turning his life around after his brother’s death. He was a big jerk for the majority of the series but really learned and repented himself after he got out of jail, but it was so convincing and not forced at all–thanks to Ricky’s acting.
  • Lawrence Yan Chi Keung as Lo Wah Long: He was probably the most despicable character in this entire series and I must give Lawrence Yan credit for making the character so lively and so hateful at the same time. He seemed like the typical good-looking dude who everyone wanted a piece of but his heart was so dark that it scared people into having second thoughts. He only cared for himself and no one else, even willing to eliminate anyone who stood in his way. It was very frightening and maddening at the same time. Seeing him having such an ending might not be as satisfying but relevant since it made him become helpless–the thing that he hated the most.

What I liked about the series:

  • The bickering couple Ping Ping and Huan Zhu: Although it seemed like the typical bickering couple falling in love, later on, I liked it in the fact that they didn’t force the two into falling in love although there were subtle implications toward the end. It didn’t come up with reasons why they began to like each other later on or pave the way like the typical series. It just happened. It seemed more obvious with Huan Zhu for the turning point of their relationship but less obvious ’cause Ping Ping seemed to like Michelle until the end but the final twist still involved elements of comedy and somewhat the time frame that things happened that made it convincing. It was part of life and what could happen.
  • The friendship and possible love between Ping Ping and Crystal: It seemed to play a lot into the elements of letting us believe romance could possibly happen between this two through time spent together and their shared dream and/or goals, plus some implications and pushing from family members. However, their friendship stayed true until the end–through comedic times as well as many hardships.
  • James and Crystal’s relationship: It started out just as a one night stand thing that happened one Christmas but through separation and many things that happened, they met again and James finally learned who Crystal really was and developed feelings for her. Their relationship was easy and slow. It seemed unrealistic but at the same time not impossible as they lived like any strange couple but learned many things about each other throughout the time.
  • The friendship between many characters in here: There were many characters in here that had been united through family members or circumstances but it seemed very real and true that not all were amazing people according to people who measured them by their achievements but their hard work and shared goals have pushed them together.
  • The bond between Ping Ping and his family: They seemed to be a normal family just surviving and thriving on, trying to make a living. But the mother was a really great person and she didn’t discriminate anyone and really understood them. She cared for them and sympathized with them ’cause she had been in such a situation before in the past. Ping Ping seemed like a smart-mouth and unmotivated since he only wanted to be a bus driver, but it was only because he was satisfied with who he was and really cared for the people around him. An An was very hardworking and had always wished to reach the top thus creating more opportunities so her family would have a better life. They were a normal family but a very special one also because they knew how to cherish people around them and the things they have.
  • The Song family’s relationship: Although it seemed scattered throughout the series, their bonding was strange and yet it seemed that they’d struggled a lot to actually finally reunite for real in the end–even if the oldest brother passed away already. A very strong message that Song Man Ting often said throughout the series was: “We’re brothers, we have to look out for each other.” It was a very simple phrase yet so true and he had really lived up to his words until the very end of his life.
  • The unforced drive of the story: The plot didn’t seem to be special in any sense but it implied a lot of important elements in it, making the whole story seemed more real than anything.
  • The many conflicts and unexplainable behaviors of many characters: There wasn’t a real purpose for everyone’s behaviors and how NOT all things could be explained and reasoned. That was how life was and it was portrayed really well in here.
  • The life messages associated with the bus such as “Life is like a bus ride, it is a long one and there aren’t any two stops similar to each other.”

There were many other things that I really liked about this series also but didn’t want to list it all. It was a really great series overall and not over-done. Even if ATV didn’t have the technology or budget like TVB to make it all high class, but the plot itself beat TVB any day. The way it was filmed, it seemed more realistic and could be related to, unlike the glamorous gist that didn’t seem real enough because of the “trying too hard” part TVB often put in.

The most unexpected thing that happened in here was the death of Ah Man. I honestly thought they were keeping him until the end ’cause of how series often wrapped up with everyone pairing up nicely. However, it was very tragic and the most heart-wrenching scene of the series to see Ah Man’s death and the suffering afterward. The mother was very unforgivable and they were still being lenient for letting Michelle and her father forgive her in the very end but still it was very frustrating to see such a mother but it was NOT unbelievable at all. The mourning scenes were done quite well also with everyone reacting differently and the song playing in the background–which was supposedly composed by Ah Man–made it all so memorable at the same time.

This series not only had an excellent cast but also an excellent story to go with it.

Posted (on Xanga): November 17, 2008

Re-posted: November 30th, 2010

Coincidentally

Another third watch from an ATV series. Not to mention it was a ghost related theme as well.

Likes:

  • Frankie and Annie as a couple. I always liked this pairing and thought it was brilliant to pair them up in here. They matched wit per wit yet was not overboard at all. OR possibly how either party didn’t want to back down that made it even funnier at times. How they both changed for each other later was equally convincing.
  • Eric Wan. His character was kind and nice in here but it wasn’t overboard with the extremely nice guy not expecting anything back. That would be overdoing it with advertising the nice guy image. But he was just a regular character. It seemed like there was nothing special about him but he was a loyal friend and a brilliant character at his own right.
  • Mak Ging Ting. She seemed fierce and only cared for business at first yet she had a kind heart and was very caring toward her girls. Though there was some persuasion at work and bargaining involved, she seemed much braver and reliable than some so-called appropriately behaved or well-mannered people. Her righteous nature was shown near the end with how she was willing to go out of her way to help them and how she stuck around for the last battle, knowing too well she would be in danger.
  • Kristal Tin. I did not realize that was her as Annie’s sister until my second re-watch but still want to mention that she was one of my favorites and Kristal did a good job as always. Touching scenes between her and Annie at the beginning. It really showed both sisters were similar instead of how they were opposites like other series like to portray with siblings. Also, fun to see her relationship with her classmate unfolding and the events that followed. It actually tied in later with the main story and benefited them (aka Ma’s father).
  • Lam Ching Ying. It wouldn’t be a ghost-related series without him and he delivered again. Brief appearances here and there but it was worth it seeing him at various points and helping them.
  • Yeung Ka Lok and Wong Mei. A somewhat funny and touching story at the same time. It was fun to see his reactions every time he heard some news relating to her or how she came to his shop and he was not really paying attention to what he was doing. It was fun to see the little ghost kid appearing here and there also. And how it was giving us clues and hints that YKL’s character would actually be his (the ghost kid’s) father in the next life since he was able to see the ghost kid but others might not.
  • Wong Mei Fun. It was extremely funny to see her at times–either being crazily obsessed with being a call girl OR being mean to others.
  • The remaining of the supporting cast. They were there at times to do their parts and it was not forced at all. Yes, the story did revolve around certain characters but because of the side stories and the supporting cast, it made it even more interesting and bearable, especially during frustrating scenes.

Dislikes:

  • Kristy Yang’s character. I don’t know. I usually like the quiet, loyal, supportive character over the loud ones YET I can’t seem to like her character at all in here. What made it even more annoying was her nagging nature and her whole thing with always wanting to stick by the others’ side when she CAN’T even help at all. It made it ten times worse for them since they needed to go do important stuff YET were caught because she insisted on following them. It wasn’t like she had the capabilities of protecting herself OR help them. She just wanted to tag along just because everyone was going. The whole idea with her getting it so fast at the end was unconvincing though it had to be that way. Yes, she realized that she was too stubborn and choosing not to believe, that was all true. BUT it wasn’t convincing with how she finally let go. But I guess whatever worked. Somehow, I didn’t like the idea of her ending up with Eric Wan’s character either though they did match, it seemed like she didn’t deserve him and not the other way around. It was good to be loyal to someone YET her annoying actions made it unforgivable. Not to mention how she caused trouble for Eric Wan’s characters numerous times. I didn’t want to use the ‘she did not know’ excuse for her since it was too unforgivable. It almost caused his life–twice.
  • Chapman To’s character. Honestly, he was one annoying character and his existence was just to cause more trouble and the drive to causing David Siu’s character to go completely insane. He and the other elders weren’t any better because he kept picking on David Siu’s character by calling him (David Siu) names, etc. That was beyond cruel and like he (David Siu) wanted to be that way.

Recommended or not? Depends on if you’re interested in ghost-related themes. Then there’s the whole idea with willing to understand some very intriguing stuff presented in here. Again, like I said in the other review, you don’t have to believe it to understand it. Your choice to watch or not.

Phoenix Rising

As I said before in my other reviews, TVB seriously makes better Shanghai period series than those of the ancient or modern ones. This one was no exception since it was very well crafted and complex in many areas. The relationship between the three sisters and their fates really made it tragic and touching in a way.

Bad idea that I read the spoilers once again, but still it was a good series although I must say it somewhat dragged at some parts and could be quite repetitive. Let’s just say I didn’t take the ending as well as how I did for The Brink of Law since both major characters died in each of the series. But for the other one, it could be justified and actually made sense. But this one, it’s like one last step and then So Fei had to die just like that. It was unreasonable and made it all so frustrating. Yes, I know that was the turning point that Lai Nga had to finally end it all, but it was so unnecessary to make it tragic on purpose.

Other than that, ‘Like’ factors included:

  • Kristal Tin as Kong Lai Nga: Lai Nga was a very protective and caring sister toward her younger siblings. She was nice and kind in her own way. But she failed to understand and draw the line between right and wrong thus causing many problems to evolve later in the story. However, I’m glad that she actually acknowledged that in the very end instead of just blaming her sister for it (although Pui Woo actually did the killing) but because Lai Nga failed to stop Pui Woo and kept using herself as a shield to let Pui Woo keep doing it or wishing that Pui Woo would change, etc. Can’t blame her since she was just knowing how to protect her sibling and maintain a strong bond. However, I thought some things didn’t have to drag out so much. Sometimes she was very rash and liked to do it without thinking, such as the scene where she was already rescued but she kept wanting to go see the wedding, etc–causing more troubles. It is called an accident and clumsiness the first time, but what about the second time at the church? She was discovered by Eileen’s character and almost create more problems (which she did in the end but for a different reason). I think overall, Kristal was very good and convincing in it since she brought out all the character’s personalities very well, convincing us that she was a weakling (unlike her other strong characters) and only knew to care for others, etc.
  • Leila Tong as So Fei: I really, really, really like Leila’s character So Fei in here and probably also the reason why I hate it so much when they killed So Fei off–even if it was to make Lai Nga see that Pui Woo never changed at all. She was very intelligent and could see through all of Pui Woo’s acts and her deceiving words. She did break the law later in trying to save Lai Nga, but I thought she was a very good sibling considering how she suffered her future for her sister and tried to do her best in saving her. She was very selfless in her actions and never back down even if she was threatened with death. She might not agree with Lai Nga’s actions sometimes but she did listen to her. I must say Leila was really good in here. This was one of the greater roles for her but too bad it ended quite tragically. She was so good that I really did cry during So Fei’s last struggle to survive by trying to escape from the box. Too bad she didn’t succeed but she did leave clues behind for Lai Nga. It was very sad seeing that last scene played out.
  • The sisterly bond between Lai Nga and So Fei: No need to say too much but it was proven many times that they will do anything for each other and maintain such a good relationship despite any obstacles or misunderstandings. They always stay true to each other and trust each other throughout. It was probably also the reason why it led Lai Nga to have such strength to finally avenge So Fei’s death in the end.
  • Sunny and Kristal’s chemistry as a tragic couple: Although it was so frustrating at times because of how reluctant he was to let go of his status and future, it was somewhat understandable. Although lack of screen time but Sunny still managed to carry out his character quite well. He and Kristal made quite a good couple also.
  • Jack Wu as Ma Hak: Although he was a bit dumb sometimes, he was very kind and determined to help So Fei whenever she needed him to. He was also very patient and fast-thinking that he complemented So Fei’s stubborn personality quite well. I guess can’t really blame him with how things turned out in the end. It was just a shame that he never knew that So Fei really did want to go with him and was delayed because she was killed. Haven’t seen Jack Wu for a while and it was funny to see him not pairing off with Nancy. But it was all right seeing him in here as a major contribution to the plot and various conspiracies.
  • Nancy Wu as Yip Chi Shan: I couldn’t believe that her character died in here again but another wonderful performance. I really like her in recent series more than her past ones for some reason. She seemed to take it up to another level unlike her passive expression like before. Her character seems to have more depth also–even if she doesn’t get to appear much. Chi Shan’s death was probably another tear-jerker aside from So Fei’s death at the end. It was very surprising and brief since I thought she would live after so many things happening and how she overcame the loss of her husband and lived for her child.
  • Law Lok Lam’s appearance although lack of screen time: He was very kind and bright in here but too bad he had such an ending. It didn’t say if his character lived or die in the end (but I’m guessing he’s still in a coma). However, I’m glad to see his contribution was something more than just appearing as Ben Wong’s father in here. It was probably the turning point for everything and a final break when Pui Woo decided to bring him down and also an opportunity for a trap as well.
  • Excellent cast as an overall: Even if Sunny Chan didn’t have as much screen time because it appeared to be mostly an all-women series, I still thought it did quite well with picking out the cast with the exception of one–Louisa So. Although Louisa’s character, Pui Woo, was very hateful, I failed to be convinced of her acting. It seemed like she was picked for her beauty instead of her acting skills since there were other casts who could be better in that role. I hated her character through her actions but didn’t really care much after watching it. It was like it was not enough. Some of the minor characters in here did better than that. And maybe because of that, I failed to feel sorry for all the psychological and/or traumatizing events she went through during her childhood or how she had become. It was like never clear what she was doing. She can paste on an “evil” look but at the minimum and could only do so much. If it was someone else, I would have felt a tad pity for Pui Woo and why she had become such a person.

Other than that, I think it was good overall. It probably would land behind The Charm Beneath, Au Revoir Shanghai, and The Price of Greed even since like I said before, it tried to be too tragic with the ending. I know it’s not supposed to be all happy near the end–because none of the other ones were (except for The Charm Beneath) but it didn’t have to be all out with deaths. Just made things so repetitive.

Since I said earlier about an excellent cast, I must say also that this is one of the most underrated series of TVB since it seems people just ignore this type of series since they fail to see some cast that they recognize or like. But this is like The Price of Greed (a series that is good) but got ignored. People should definitely give this a chance.

Posted: December 25, 2008

Re-posted: Sunday, March 21st, 2010

ICAC 2009: Episode 1

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

While Ma Yat Ming (Bowie Lam) was riding in his car, he received a call from his wife,  Lam Boi Kei (Krystal Tin), telling him that she was back in Hong Kong and she wanted to go confess to her crimes. Shocked, he convinced her not to do such a thing. She did not want to listen to him because he had betrayed her by having an affair with the finance manager, Ho Lai Man (Vivien Yeo).

While that was going on, Annie (Jessica Hsuan), Henry (Raymond Wong), and other ICAC investigators were following both Ma Yat Ming and Wong Hoi (Ellesmere Choi), a stock analyst, closely in trying to find proofs of their acts.

While following Wong Hoi, the ICAC investigators discovered that he was committing suicide. Annie gave Henry the orders to stop him. However, he was a step too late since Wong Hoi already jumped. Fortunately, Wong Hoi had some surrounding objects cushioning his fall so he was only severely injured but not dead. Wong Hoi finally confessed later at the hospital.

What was happening was Ma Yat Ming, Lam Boi Kei, Ho Lai Man, and Wong Hoi were trying to manipulate the stock markets and bring profits for themselves. Yat Ming convinced them all to join in on the gig in making money. Yat Ming used both his wife to become a chairman of the company while his finance manager and the stock analyst manipulated the figures and boasted about the company’s credentials.

Boi Kei fled Hong Kong to Taiwan after learning that the ICAC was investigating their company. However, she changed her mind after learning of the affair between Yat Ming and Lai Man. Though it could be truer to say that both Yat Ming and Lai Man were only in for the money. It was just that Yat Ming was getting craftier with his words of how he cared for both parties, Boi Kei and Lai Man, when he conversed with them–individually. It was more a stunt to shut them up, preventing himself from getting caught.

Not being able to convince Boi Kei from coming in to make a confession, Yat Ming tricked her into meeting him by implying how much he cared for her well being while at the same time hiring a hitman to go after her at the arranged meeting.

It appeared that Boi Kei’s father (Lau Kong) had served a sentence in the past for the same crime. He did not want to cooperate with the ICAC investigators at first because he was going by what was really good for her, i.e. not going to personally put her in prison. He soon changed his mind after knowing that Boi Kei was nearly killed at the meeting with Yat Ming. Henry was there in time to save Boi Kei though she fled again with Yat Ming aiding in the process.

Boi Kei, through Yat Ming’s persuasion, finally agreed to return to Taiwan and back into her hiding place. However, he had slyly snatched up the evidence from her bag before saying his farewells to her when a boat arrived to take her away. Yat Ming fled the scene after playing out the tragic goodbye scene at the pier. He tossed the evidence into the water and drove off into the night, knowing everything would be over within seconds.

Luckily, Annie and Henry finally discovered their whereabouts through the last call that Boi Kei made to her father. When the hitmen hired by Yat Ming were about to carry on with their pre-given orders, Annie and Henry arrived in time to save Boi Kei from being killed–once again. Boi Kei still did not know of the incident and still insisted on keeping her mouth shut regarding the matter, not knowing that she had been deceived many times by Yat Ming.

The ICAC investigators continued to follow Yat Ming and finally got a break when they discovered Yat Ming giving Lai Man the last of the money she asked for. They managed to snap some shots of the two and finally got a confession from Boi Kei.

This first story seemed to be a warm-up for the rest since the seriousness of the atmosphere reflected on the dark and thick background accompanying their black suits. Everyone meant business in here. It was that serious. The case was all right, considering they only had about 40 minutes to map everything out. Jessica and Raymond were a good team. It was nice to see Raymond in the action for the most part. However, I could not help but found it very funny that Raymond and Vivien were on opposite sides this time since I recently watched A Great Way to Care with them pairing up.