Men Don’t Cry

DISCLAIMER: The following is of fictional work and should not be taken seriously or be accounted for actual facts in any way. It is not aim to confuse or mislead anyone for that matter. It is not meant to offend or disrespect any of the artists mentioned in the work either. Its purpose only serves to entertain and share with other fans who also like those artists. Thank you for reading.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*


“Why must it be you every time?” Kristy’s words echoed back into his ears.

Andrew rubbed his forehead slowly, smoothing the stress lines making its way onto his face once more.

“A promise is a promise,” He muttered to the empty space around him, reminding himself of the mission that was bestowed upon his shoulders.

“I’m asking you for the last time, are you leaving with me or not?” Kristy’s voice continued in his mind, replaying their last conversation several hours before. “If not, then I’m staying with you and will follow you until the very end. You don’t have to say anything anymore. I’ve already decided. I’ll give you until tomorrow morning.”

He uttered out another sigh. How was he supposed to answer? Breaking a promise to save the one he loved the most in his life? Or follow a preplanned mission to save his honor?

A glint of light coming from the horizon told him he needed to make up his mind immediately. Fumbling for his phone, he decided to send her a message to delay her rash decisions. However, he stopped himself, knowing too well she would not buy it. Glimpsing at the horizon one last time, he finally made his move. He descended the wooden steps, exiting the deck, rushing past the garden and out to the main street. He ran until he reached the outskirt of town where he could see her car parking in front of the abandoned house. Stopping at the car to check for her presence, he was greeted with the empty space inside. He turned his vision back on the deserted road, wondering where she could have gone.

“Kristy!” He called out to her, panic overtook him.

He wished he was not late. He knew too well of her stubbornness.

“Kristy!” He called out again, increasing his steps toward the dark house.

He pushed the doors open to find more darkness surrounding him.

“Kristy?” He attempted once more, his voice shaking. “Kristy!”

He searched the house meticulously with his lighter being the only source of light. Sweats forming on his head, he stepped out of the house with a renewed source of nervousness forming inside him. Where could she have gone?

“Kristy!” He shouted yet again, standing at the corner of the road.

The sun was about to rise. He knew that he could no longer stop her if he could not find her in time. Feeling defeated, he dropped down at the edge of the road, waiting for the inevitable to come upon him. A lump formed at his throat and a coldness filling his heart, he finally realized hope had deserted him. Putting his head into his hands, he tried to cover the grief-stricken image his face displayed at that moment. Too late, he told himself silently. As if in mockery, a gust of windblown by, teasing him of his missed chance.

“You’ve finally made your decision?” A familiar voice asked from a distance.

Wanting to fool himself and letting his imagination taking over, he looked up to see Kristy standing across the path in a white dress with a peaceful smile on her face. The same one she wore when he first met her at the pier more than a year ago – though it had seemed so long. He leaped from his spot and ran toward her, embracing her, wishing it was real.

“Does this mean you choose me?” Kristy asked softly, hugging him back.

Feeling the illusion finally passing with her touch and bringing him back into the reality of the situation, he knew he had to say it. He did not want to regret it. He did not want to lose her again–like he thought he did.

“Yes,” He muttered, at last, tightening his grip on her.

“How will you answer to them?” Kristy asked as if testing him.

“They will have to rely on Ricky,” He answered, his voice determined.

They finally parted, but not quite. He held her at arm’s length, staring into her eyes with his unwavering look, proving to her that he was not lying to her. Not detecting contradictions of his words, Kristy finally smiled, nodding her head in agreement.

Taking her hands into his again, they made their way to her car as the sun began its journey up to announce a new day.

“I want you to drive out of town and…” He began when they were in her car.

“No,” She said, cutting him off. “I won’t leave alone.”

“Let me finish first.”

She waited in silence.

“Wait for me by the pier where we first met. I need to pack and leave them a message and I’ll meet you there.”

“Why not go back to your house together? I can wait for you to pack and then we’ll drive out of here.”

He shook his head. “They’ve already set up a monitoring system in the house. If they spot you there, the ones watching the house will know and alert the others. If I’m alone, they’ll think that I’m just getting ready to go to the site for the mission.”

“That is why you never want me to go into that house?”

He nodded.

“All right.”

He finally let out a smile. “The sun is rising right now so they’ll be there in an hour. Let’s hurry.”

Without another word, she started the car and drove him back to the beach house. She made sure to park out of range and let him off at a safe distance.

“Wait for me there,” He repeated his words again. “Even if I’m late.”

She nodded with a smile.

He reached forward and gave her a final kiss before turning to head back inside the house.

He’d done it. He could now answer to himself–even if he would eventually become the most inconsiderate person in this world.

Rushing back inside, he entered from the deck like he left earlier as not to bring suspicion toward himself. Only a few more steps and it would all be over. He glimpsed the house briefly before rushing upstairs to pack.

Half an hour later, he returned to the living room in black attire, ready for the road trip–having shed off his white outfit from earlier. Dropping the duffel bag on the floor, he grabbed a pen and a piece of paper from his desk to compose his apology letter.

Fifteen minutes later, he descended the front steps and headed for his car. The sun was now higher than before. It was announcing the ending of his past life and a new page to his new one. He could feel the heaviness lifting off his chest slowly. Just one more stop, he thought.

Five minutes later, he arrived at a familiar luxurious house of his old friend, knowing he would have to say a word before leaving. He stared longingly at the two envelopes in his hand, almost wanting to start the engine again and escaped from the responsibility of this last meeting. However, he knew he had to do it. It was the last time. Getting out of his car, he could see his friend descending the steps.

“You’re early,” Ricky said with a half-smile.

Andrew did not say anything. He just stepped forward and shoved the two envelopes into Ricky’s hand.

“Wait!” Ricky yelled out upon seeing the words on the envelopes.

“It’s all in there,” Andrew said passively, making his way back to his car without turning around to face Ricky.

“Do you think I’m that good of persuading others?” Ricky asked.

Andrew knew Ricky was right. It wasn’t about techniques anymore but about the parties involved. He turned around to face his old friend once more, feeling that he had burdened Ricky with the letters. He gave Ricky a smile of encouragement. “I know you can do it.”  And that wasn’t a lie because, despite Ricky’s threatening exterior at times, he’d always been the one doing all the persuasions in the past for their missions. He was the negotiator between the two of them–hired gun or not.

Ricky smiled finally. “If you have so much confidence in me, I’ll do it.”

“Thank you,” Andrew said with his last smile before turning to leave again.

It was almost over, Andrew thought as he entered his car again. Almost there.

*****

Ricky watched Andrew’s car disappeared behind the morning’s dust before turning his attention to the two letters in his hand. He read the first letter that was addressed to him more carefully than before. He merely skimmed the contents earlier because he wanted to make sure Andrew was sure of his decision. Glimpsing at the second letter, he knew Andrew must have taken a long time with it. He turned back to his house to get ready for the mission.

He arrived at the designated location fifteen minutes later seeing the sun shining on an angel by the pier. Dressed with confidence, his mind told a different story. He hesitated twice before cutting the engine and getting out. He dragged his footsteps all the way to the edge of the pier. Just as he was about to step forward, he spotted a little boy walking toward him. It might be better to let this innocent kid do the job. After all, he could not bear to leave if he saw her cry. But if he stayed any longer, he would be too late for the mission. And after working his charm to persuade the little boy, he only stayed until he saw the kid approaching her. He was in his car by the time the letter transferred hands. He drove off afterward, not wanting to look back–or he would change his mind.

*****

Kristy felt anxiousness creeping up by the minute as the wind lashed at her harder. She had to reassure herself many times in the past hour that he would not get caught. Just as she turned around to check the streets once more, she saw a little boy holding a big stick of cotton candy walking toward her. She smiled at the innocent kid, not realizing that he was looking for her until he came closer. After some polite exchanges, the kid handed her an envelope and left. Knowing that she could not hold the messenger liable, she concentrated on opening the envelope. She unfolded the paper inside carefully, trying to remain calm. However, she could no longer maintain her composure after she glimpsed the first few words. It was really a letter from Andrew. It read:

Kristy,
When you received this letter from Ricky, I’m probably no longer in this world. Forgive me for lying to you. But I promise you this will be the last time. A promise is a promise after all. I know I would break your heart by doing it. I know you might never forgive me but I still must say it. Leave this town immediately like you never knew of its existence. Take good care of yourself and live every day the best of how you know of. And most of all, forget me.
Andrew

Tears had brimmed her eyes the moment she read the first few lines. She could not believe that he had lied to her. He was so sincere, so… Then she remembered. The brief goodbye kiss was meant to be the last kiss they would ever share in this lifetime. How could she have been so careless?

Her knees gave way, pulling her body down toward the wooden ground. She was suddenly brought alive by the pain of the fall. Gripping tightly onto the letter in her hand, she pushed herself up and made her way toward the street. She had to take every single chance she had. She could not give up at that moment. She was never the type to give up in a race before. She would not give up on this race either. The race for time.

*****

Andrew stepped onto the gravel road, slinging the duffel bag onto his shoulder. He knew that in half an hour, it would all be over. And then Ricky would deliver the letter to Kristy. He would comfort her and bring her out of town along with Asuka.

Then everything would be back to normal liked it had never existed.

He had told Ricky to take her further away, telling her that he had told Ricky to do so. Then Ricky would stall for more time before giving Kristy the letter. By the time she realized what had happened, it would be too late. Ricky would stop her if she wanted to go find him. He knew he could rely on Ricky.

Clearing his mind of the distractive thoughts, he focused on the road ahead again. He had abandoned his car fifteen minutes earlier so he would not draw suspicion toward himself when he arrived. He would be there with an hour to spare. He had estimated his time well. He would be there, waiting for sunset before making his move.

When he was finally at the site, he spotted several cars parked next to the house. He backtracked to the dirt road–where the gravel had ended several minutes earlier–and hid behind a tree. He waited silently until the cars left. He also waited until he was absolutely sure no else was around. He waited for darkness to arrive. The wait was the most torturous part during missions. He had often hated it in the past. But he was glad to have the wait at that very moment. He knew his life was at its end. Having the wait was the reward he got this time around.

The wait finally ended when nothing could be there to stop him. He had dropped his duffel bag down earlier. Now, he slung it onto his shoulder again before stepping out behind the shadows of the trees. He walked with precision toward the house ahead, preparing his mentality.

“It’s about time you decided to make a move,” A familiar voice said in the dark.

He turned in every direction, trying to locate the person who had spoken before. In his attempt to hide, he had forgotten there was no source of light to track anyone. Before he could reach into his pocket to bring out some light, a small dot of light made its way to him. Then he could see a familiar smiling face in front of him.

“What are you doing here?” He asked, alarmed.

“What kind of a friend am I if I let my friend die alone?” Ricky asked back, still smiling.

“What about the girls?”

“They will never forgive us anyway.”

“What if they come here?”

Ricky smiled. “They won’t. The girls don’t know the real location, remember?”

“Kristy knows.”

“She won’t make it.”

“But…”

“Let’s do it.”

Andrew knew Ricky was right. He could not waste any time. He resumed the walk to the house, still feeling unnerved. He reached his hand out to grab the door handle when they arrived at the house.

“Are you sure?” Andrew asked Ricky one last time.

“Are you delaying your death?” Ricky teased, clapping Andrew’s shoulder and smiling.

Andrew knew Ricky would not back out no matter what. He should not delay the mission any longer either. He sighed out and pushed the door in–since he had opened it already. Ricky slipped in after Andrew and closed the door.

“Half an hour tops,” Ricky said.

Andrew nodded.

After that, both guys went to work, setting up explosives everywhere.

Like Ricky predicted, they were done half an hour later. In fact, they had ten minutes to spare.

“This is it,” Ricky muttered when they reached the control room.

“You go first,” Andrew said, turning to Ricky.

“I wasn’t coming to be the cleanup crew,” Ricky said, determined.

“This is your last chance, Ricky,” Andrew warned him.

“I made up my mind by coming here.”

Andrew sighed out, opening the door to the control room. He saw wires connecting everywhere, running toward the center of the room to its main control. He knew this was the key to the weapon – like they have been told these past days. He stepped forward with the last bag of explosives in his hands. Ricky offered the source of fire when they were done setting up. They were going to attach the last string connecting the explosives to the center control and then it was left up to fate or luck to carry out the rest.

“I’ll do it,” Ricky volunteered, taking the string from Andrew.

“But…” Andrew protested.

“I’ll let you hold the string later,” Ricky negotiated.

Andrew finally let go his end of the string, allowing Ricky to finish the task.

Andrew scanned the sealed up room once more, wanting to take in the surrounding and experience his last minute alive. He would never have dreamt of having such an ending. Suddenly, Kristy’s image came back into his mind. He had tried to push her image out of his mind to focus on the tasks he had to finish this past hour. But since he had already done everything, her image resurfaced in his mind.

“Hey, wait a minute,” Ricky’s voice spoke up from the center of the room, breaking through his thoughts.

“What?” Andrew asked passively, knowing that Ricky was just delaying their ending for a few more seconds.

“Come over here.”

Andrew did as instructed. He was ready. Ricky did not have to cheer him up. Did Ricky not know they were closer to their death than ever?

“What?” Andrew repeated his words from seconds earlier when he was standing side-by-side with Ricky.

“Look at this,” Ricky said. “It seems like our man missed this spot.”

Andrew looked at where Ricky pointed. He noticed the metallic sticks surrounding the rim of the center piece. He turned toward Ricky again to see Ricky smiling.

“It’s our only chance to get out of here,” Ricky said.

Before Andrew could say anything, they hear a car engine coming closer.

“No time!” Andrew yelled out. “Probably they’re coming back to check. I’ll light it up. You try to escape before it hits the center.”

“What are you talking about?” Ricky shouted back. “I’m not leaving here without you, man.”

Andrew ignored Ricky’s words. He lit the rope attached to the string and pushed Ricky out of the connecting door that led back into the rest of the house. He knew there was a window nearby. Ricky could make it.

“Do it!” Ricky shouted again, still standing by the door.

“Go!” Andrew ordered, shoving Ricky further from him and closer to the window behind them.

*****

Ricky felt the heat making its way toward him. He looked back toward Andrew once more. The room was in flames already. He tried to get up and make his way back into the room.

“Go!” Andrew shouted again.

Before he could make a move, he spotted the flames coming toward him. He dodged out of the way and realized that the flames had cut through the path between him and Andrew. He turned toward his friend one last time, seeing Andrew being engulfed by the flames. He knew it was just the flame blinding him because it would take about a minute more before it would engulf the room completely. He was running out of oxygen himself. He had to finish the task. He reached into his pocket to retrieve his lighter and flicked it once, tossing it toward his left to create a bigger fire before leaping out the window behind him.

It was only seconds later that the explosion finally told him of his friend’s fate.

*****

Kristy reached the secret house at long last, feeling relief that it was still in one piece. She was on time to stop him. She shut off the engine and climbed out of her car in time to see the house lit up. She approached the house slowly, not wanting to alarm any uninvited party. Just when she was about twenty feet from the house, she heard some crackling sounds inside. She knew what was about to happen, but could not pull herself away from it. She tried to increase her pace but was too late. She saw the house blew up, sending lights everywhere into the sky. Crashing down on the ground, tears showered her face. She knew it was done. The mission was finally over. And so was her life. After all, what was even more painful than losing the last person she cared for in this world?

Kristy was not sure how long she stayed there. She did not acknowledge the time or circumstance. She almost wished that the uninvited parties would just come and take her away or execute her right there so she could be with him. She did not care for the heat from the flames either. She stared through her tears at the house as the fire continued through the night. She stared until the orange flames ceased itself and gave way to the yellow-ish colors. Then she let her imagination wandered on its own, bringing her a silhouette of a man dressed in dark clothes walking toward her from the far right side.

“Kristy?” The familiar voice uttered out weakly when he was in front of her.

Fresh tears made its way down her face once more. She did not reply. She was infuriated with her imagination for not letting her lie to herself. She knew at that moment it was only Ricky. His face was bruised and his clothes were tattered at various places but he was alive.

“Kristy, come on,” Ricky urged, helping Kristy up from the ground. “We have to get out of here.”

Kristy did not budge from her spot. She shrugged Ricky’s hand off, shaking her head furiously.

“We can’t do anything now,” Ricky begged. “Let’s go. Let’s get out of here before the others arrive. They’re probably on their way here right now.”

Kristy shook her head again.

“Could you please help me by fulfilling his wish?” Ricky begged again.

Kristy looked up at Ricky, seeing the grief on his face. She finally realized that they were in the same situation. She was not the one losing someone important. He just lost his friend. If they stayed any longer, they would lose their lives as well. She knew that was her wish. But what about Ricky? She knew Andrew probably wanted Ricky to have a good life.

“Please,” Ricky repeated.

Kristy nodded at last. She let him helped her up. Then she could see a silhouette coming from the far left of the flames. She pushed Ricky aside to get a better look since he had been shielding her from the view.

“Kristy,” Ricky called out, grabbing onto her arms to guide her out of there.

She shrugged his hands off like earlier, taking a step toward the flames. She rubbed her eyes, trying to get a clearer vision of the silhouette. She stared unwaveringly at the smiling person walking toward her, knowing that it was not her imagination. He walked slowly toward her. His steps were slow, lacking energy, but he seemed to be just fine. Some minor scratches and torn clothes just like Ricky.

“I’m still alive,” Andrew announced, extending his hands out to Kristy.

“You scared me to death,” Kristy said, fresh tears rolling down her cheeks.

Andrew hugged her to him, rocking back and forth slowly. He did not know whether he was trying to calm her down or himself. But he was glad he survived. It was the first time in his life he wanted to bargain with the unknown force. And that unknown force had listened. He let Kristy cried into his shoulder as Ricky made his way toward them.

Ricky did not say anything – just like the typical Ricky. Ricky just clapped his shoulder and gave him a smile.

“Let’s get out of here,” Andrew said at last.

Kristy finally pulled away from him and tried to brush her tears away.

“Retrieving your cars?” Kristy asked both guys as they were making their way toward her car.

“No,” Andrew replied, shaking his head. “They installed monitors in there too. Let’s take your car.”

“You’re not going to tell them the result?” Kristy asked, surprised.

“They will never stop calling us if they knew we’re alive,” Ricky answered.

“That means…”

“We’re done,” Andrew said, smiling and slipping a hand around her shoulders.

Kristy stopped walking and turned around to see both guys smiling at her. She smiled back at them, seeing that they were determined to give up their dangerous missions. All three of them continued to Kristy’s car.

*****

“How did you escape?” Ricky asked, turning to Andrew.

They were driving out of town after picking up Asuka at Ricky’s house. The guys did not have time to change since they did not want to risk being seen by either one of the parties involved in the whole situation. They had let Kristy come inside Ricky’s house earlier to pick up Asuka since it would make sense that Kristy wanted to leave town with Asuka. No one would be suspicious of the girls who just lost their lovers. The difference was Asuka was actually Ricky’s wife, but she had always posed as his maid whenever they were to reduce attention from herself and not becoming the target if anyone wanted to threaten Ricky by kidnapping her.

When Asuka stepped into the car, she was happy and shocked at the same time upon seeing Ricky alive. They had signaled for her to stay silent until Kristy drove safely out of town. The girls had sat in front while the guys stayed in the back seats so they would not draw attention toward themselves if they were stopped.

“After I pushed you out, I tried to tie the rope around the metallic sticks we saw a minute before that,” Andrew explained. “I didn’t give up. I just didn’t want you to risk your life when you can escape in time. After I was done tying it, it was too late to go through the door since the flames had already separated us. I was running out of air too. I found a window far back behind the seats by accident because I was hitting on the wall. I jumped out and barely made it. The explosion pushed me away from the house. Then I was unconscious.”

“I was unconscious for a while too,” Ricky said. “I woke up and found Kristy kneeling a distance from the house. When I finally persuaded her to leave, you showed up. Just in time too.”

“I guess someone out there was listening,” Andrew said with a smile.

“Someone sure did,” Kristy agreed.

*****

When day broke through again, they arrived at the familiar town they once dreamt of living in. It was actually the place where they met Kristy unofficially because they only saw her enter the bank to ask for directions while Ricky and Andrew were doing the same on the other side of the street.

Ricky had told them several hours back to drop him off when they arrived. Andrew stopped the car as soon as he found a suitable spot.

“Where are you guys heading then?” Ricky asked after he and Asuka were standing by the roadside.

“Wherever Kristy wants,” Andrew replied.

“Good luck then,” Ricky joked, saluting to his friend.

“Same to you,” Andrew returned.

After that, Ricky and Asuka stepped back to give them space. Ricky stared after the car until it was no longer visible. Then he turned to Asuka with a smile. She returned his smile and they made their way into town hand-in-hand.

While Ricky was staring at them, Andrew and Kristy were exchanging some words between them as Andrew merged back into traffic.

“Were you serious when you said it to Ricky?” Kristy asked, looking over to him.

“Of course,” Andrew said, smiling. He reached one hand over to take her hand into his. “I will use the rest of my life to fulfill your every wish.”

Kristy smiled, knowing that he was trying to reassure her that he would never leave again. She gave his hand a little squeeze to seal their promise.

*****

Four months later, they received a postcard from Ricky and Asuka. Ricky and Asuka had left that town already, claiming boredom. They were on a new adventure. Andrew smiled upon looking at the postcard in his hand. He could not help but felt his friend could never live peacefully at one place for a long time. However, he knew that at least his friend was far away from the action just from the scenery in the postcard. At least they were enjoying life.

“What are you smiling about?” Kristy asked, placing a hand on his shoulder.

He turned around to see her all ready. He smiled and got up, taking her hands into his. “Ricky and Asuka are back on their adventure again.”

“I’m not surprised,” Kristy said. “Maybe we will meet them again.”

“Maybe.”

After that, they walked out of the door together, still hand-in-hand.

Two hours later, they were setting anchor and staring out into the blue ocean. They stood at the front of the ship, gripping onto the rail and enjoying the air. The sun was above their head. It was another new day and a new adventure. It seemed like they were not any better than Ricky.

“Where are we heading this time?” Andrew asked, turning to his wife.

“I’ll decide in a bit,” Kristy replied.

“Yes, ma’am. Take your time.”

They laughed out after that. Andrew slipped a hand around her shoulders and turned his eyes toward the horizon ahead, feeling the breeze blowing at him and waiting for his wife to deliver her next command.

© Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

NOTES:
– The title was named after the song “Men Don’t Cry” sung by Andrew Yuen for ATV’s series The Snow Is Red, NOT having anything to do with TVB’s series’ title.
– The story was inspired by somewhat of the song and then because of the pairing.
– It wasn’t posted until now because it wasn’t supposed to be a one-shot in the first place.

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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

Project Ji Xiang

It was about time that I blog about this, considering how I watched it three times already. It was so funny how I did not remember all the details or the main reason why–thus leading to a continuance of interest surrounding the series. Not to mention the reasons why I liked it so much and still able to watch it that many times.

Likes:

  • Kenneth Chan as Yam Gut Cheung. I always liked Kenneth and liked it even more that he was finally leading. He had the main guy presence but still managed to stick close to his role without looking like he was trying too hard (like most guys who were finally given opportunity). He managed to exude the ‘guy next door’ image in here (though his link to the paranormal made it hard to be someone normal).
  • Joey Meng as Dai Si Hing. Another role linked to the ghost theme yet this time she was more of a non-believer (at least at first). But I really liked it seeing her as a cop. She was serious yet there was a vulnerable side to her too, NOT just the whole unreasonably stubborn and tough exterior. It was not one-dimensional. And I was glad since I thought it was just another typical role BUT it wasn’t.
  • Kenneth and Joey as a couple. I really liked this pairing after watching and they will always remain one of my favorites. I was surprised that they matched so well since after the whole My Date With A Vampire sagas and their roles on the opposite sides had let on. Their chemistry was really interesting and lovable that almost made me wish that they were together in MDWAV III (which was funny since their characters said otherwise, lol). I liked that the scriptwriters made both their characters strong and were equal in talents and with a similar mentality. I rather see that than making the main female lead a weakling so the main male lead could shine since that plot is more than overkilled. There was this strong bond between the two of them–seen more at the later part of the series–that said a lot. They were different when they were with each other than when Gut Cheung was with Sally or when Si Hing was with Yat Yat. It was funny that they dated the siblings (Gut Cheung with Sally and Si Hing with Yat Yat of course) before getting together. I had a feeling like they were soulmates when they were together versus when they were with the other two.
  • Kenny Lin as Lui Yat Yat. I usually don’t like the too nice guy roles that were often portrayed by the other guy who will never get the girl, lol. (Since they were often made to be too good and often made you pity them, which I don’t like that tactic used to approach, seeking sympathy from the audience.) But I have to make an exception for Kenny since I liked his character and how there was no hype over his character. At least NOT that often slapped around like other series like to portray. He was just another guy and just someone moving along in life.
  • Kenny and Joey as a pairing. I know that it was a bit ironic to like both pairings but blame it on them for having chemistry as well. AND the fact that Kenny lost to the main guy again! (Poor Kenny!) When Si Hing was with Gut Cheung, we–the viewers–got to see her aggressive, strong personality but when she was with Yat Yat, there was this gentle, kind personality. She was really comfortable with him and acted more considerate toward him for a reason. Yet it was easy to see that because she was holding back some things with him that it seemed they did not work out as a couple and were better off as friends.
  • Ricky Chan as Johnson. I did not notice Ricky until watching this and found it interestingly funny that he was Kenneth’s sidekick in here. It was nice seeing him as a sort of bum role and how he was overly obsessed with networking, etc. It was really funny also that Johnson seemed like a cool dude but was able to think up of all sort of plans and giving love advice, lol. It seemed like he wasn’t around that much the later parts of the series but it was all right since he was not forgotten either AND considering the intensity of other things set in, it was understandable.
  • Wailis Pang as Yung Siu Lan. At times, I found her kind of snobby BUT then Wailis was so cute and lovable at times that it was forgivable. It was all right that she was spoiled, at least she wasn’t hateful like other series like to portray of the ‘other girl’. I actually felt quite sorry for her since she witnessed such a traumatizing event since young and it had affected her later on, causing an emotional breakdown.
  • Ricky and Wailis as a couple. They really matched wit per wit all right. Both having an equally strong tongue and how they bickered, in the beginning, was really funny. It was funny how they had so much similar qualities yet was unable to get along at first. Another one of the pairings that had some similar personalities and was able to compete against each other–like how Kenneth and Joey were, but on a different level. It was somewhat cute that they met again at that one cybercafe at the end. They were probably meant to be together since they kept bumping into each other.
  • Kenneth and Wailis as a couple. Okay, so another one that I couldn’t resist but put in. But I felt they were really comfortable with each other when together and did have some chemistry. There was something obviously missing in their relationship but it was still cute that she was willing to go through to help him at various times or try to get his attention. When Gut Cheung was with Sally, there was this obvious look of them being the glamorous couple yet and matched really well. What was a bit annoying was when Gut Cheung was trying to think, he was not able to since Sally was always ranting about something. Maybe they were showing how the two didn’t click as well at times so it was inevitable that they did not end up together. The hint with the light was also telling us that they would not work out. The most obvious hint was the whole idea with her father responsible for his parents’ death. Though she was not responsible, it would be too weird to have them end up together. It wasn’t just happily ever after, they had to live with that for the rest of their lives.
  • Berg Ng as Hong Yau Wai. An interestingly funny character. Though he was in the gang, I found him really funny since his actions said otherwise (which we found out later why).
  • Kong Mei Yee as Dai Lai Hing. Every time she appeared, I wanted to laugh. Well, except for the parts where the incidents with her father and all. She was really witty in her way and was a comedic relief where the plot was concerned.
  • Berg and Kong Mei Yee as a couple. They were probably the comedic couple in here. Every time they appeared together, they caused laughter or other hilarious scenes. The funniest thing was I noticed how they were another couple matching wit per wit. YES, it seemed the same formula was used BUT at least there was no dominance between the two genders in here since I’m rather sick and tired of the whole who was stronger or had a stronger personality between different couples. At least they had a different story and relationship from the other two pairings. I really enjoyed those times when he let her bully him into various things and how he had on that expression like, “She had no idea.” It was really lovable how she kept pretending to NOT like him OR how she kept stalking him BUT had to come up with a reason for stalking him. It was really silly but lovable. Their wedding was utterly hilarious too since they made it sound like they were forced to marry each other but silently cheering for it to happen too. Then the most hilarious part was her finally getting her wish of arresting him at the end and making him serve a life sentence of taking care of her and her baby. AND he had no problem with that since he was more than ready to hang up his hat with his undercover job.
  • Bak Piao as Yam Suen. Funny to see Bak Piao in such a comedic role. But he did well–as if there were any doubts.
  • Yam Suen (Bak Piao) and Gut Cheung (Kenneth) as father and son. Though they weren’t really blood-related, I found it really likable with their father and son bond. It wasn’t cheesy or overkilled with stressing how important they were to one another. There was this comedic element to it. They appreciated each other, BUT it wasn’t stressed or implied too much through words but could be seen through the actions and interactions throughout. It was really funny too that Yam Suen wanted to leave OR attempted to leave after the whole thing with him revealing the truth about Gut Cheung’s identity. His luggage was empty AND he was just pretending BUT it was extremely funny that he pulled such a thing. Then Gut Cheung found him out!
  • Ruco Chan as Yung Siu Lung. It wasn’t the character but more like his portrayal of the character. He had the potential and the look but it wasn’t his time and it was okay for me since he did have a major part to play in the main plot (though he didn’t appear a lot).
  • The majority of the cast. Regardless of the role they portrayed, I thought it was a good cast. Everyone fit well with their given role. I did not feel the hype so I felt it was a success. These people worked together before, but somehow I didn’t feel bored OR feel overkilled when they were grouped together for this production as well.
  • The fact that every time Lai Hing walked out of Si Hing’s office, she bumped into Gut Cheung. It was funny all right and Lai Hing always pointed that out. It was funnier that Lai Hing was the one seeing how only Gut Cheung was the one for Si Hing, always encouraging them on AND that she kept saying to Gut Cheung, “Take good care of my sister.” Perhaps, it was because Lai Hing knew both a lot more and how they would match well.
  • How the pairings seemed to reflect a different feeling. I just realized it and placed it in when thinking and typing for the other pairings. Like I felt differently about when Kenneth was with Joey or Wailis OR how Joey was with Kenneth or Kenny. It must be really something and how they portrayed their roles because they seriously were convincing with their interactions with each partner.

Sorry, no ‘Dislikes’ for this one, considering how I tend to lean more towards ATV regardless of what problems they had internally OR how others hated them. Not recommended for those who DO NOT care for supernatural stuff OR care to understand it. (There’s a difference between understanding it versus believing. You DO NOT have to believe it to understand.)