Raising the Bar

Surprisingly, I also watched this ages back and do not remember much anymore. However, I couldn’t get some things out of my mind regarding this for some reason, so I thought I might as well do a review and get it all out. I have already forgotten about most of the characters since there were a lot. Yet I remember some stuff, so will try to discuss those areas.

The reason why I even watched this in the first place was because of Ben Wong and how he managed to make it back to the main lead at long last. Yes, that was the sole reason why I wanted to watch at first. I usually do not watch legal series, but I made an exception for Ben. So, yeah, if Ben ever read this, he should be happy, lol. (YEAH, right, lol.) Anyway, how was it? To say that it was a mistake was an understatement. There were some good things about it–for sure. But some things were just too whatever.

Main Cast:

  • Ben Wong as Marcus Fan Chi Ngai (范智毅). So, Ben’s back as the main guy. How was he? In a sense of acting, I didn’t doubt him at all throughout. He delivered. It was a long journey for him making up top again so I applaud him. In a sense of character, I guess he was a typical good guy, so there wasn’t much to say about that. I actually liked his goofy off-work side more, lol. Because he would end up in all these strange debates with the other senior lawyers or with his friends.
  • Louis Cheung as Quinton Chow Chi Pok (周梓博). Coming in from Black Heart White Soul, I say my perception was mixed feelings. Yes, my last series of him before watching this one was that one, so yeah, it was going great for him really. (Yes, sarcasm.) However, I swear, he did better in the other one. Yes, even if he was a mix character in the other one, he delivered better in terms of acting. In this one, I thought he was too trying, possibly because of taking on a student a role or something. I’m not sure. I couldn’t figure it out. But his charater was all right. Nothing really special that stood out for me. At least, he wasn’t annoying either?
  • Ram Chiang as Woody Lam Sam Muk (林森木). He was the other shining character in here for me. I thought he contributed to shouldering the series for the majority of the main cast already and deserved a call out for that. He had some interesting insights and often the voice of reason among their group of senior lawyers at times.
  • Grace Chan as Giselle Tong Ching Chi (唐靖姿). I tried really hard to like her but I just couldn’t. Seriously, it was really hard. First, I had my bias with Grace–thanks a lot to Overachievers, I didn’t like her at all in there. So yeah, seeing her in here, it was hard to restrain. Battling that bias took several episodes for me and it became easier because once I got into her character, I did like her ambition and her willingness to work toward her goal. Her character was interesting in that sense and she did have some principles or at least, tried to live by the codes, not cutting corners, etc. But as the series went along, her character became boring for me in a sense. I guess, I was just impatient. So I tried to focus on other parts of the plot and see how it went with her journey to becoming a lawyer. What went completely downhill and became a nail in the coffin for me was the last conflict of the series. The one where Marcus was accused of having an affair with one of the students (or it was said he manipulated his way into it via his power). I seriously wanted to reach into the screen and strangle her. Yeah, that bad. I know we–as the audience–witnessed along with Giselle throughout how lawyers had gone astray or forgot their original goal after having been in the industry for too long. Giselle, herself, was also a victim of those harassment throughout the series. However, having been with Marcus for that long and understanding him like that, how could she disregard his words and believe the other girl completely? What happened to innocent until proven guilty or relying on evidence or whatever else. I do understand in those cases, there was a posibility of people in higher places abusing their power, etc. However, I thought she would have given Marcus the benefit of a doubt because she worked alongside him for so long. Nope, she not only disregard his integrity entirely but also withheld evidence, causing the situation to drag out until the girl’s family member decided to submit the journal on her own. What the hell? I don’t know how the legal system over there work (because I don’t live there, so this isn’t a snappy comment, just saying I don’t have firsthand information), but when you found something relevant to an ongoing case, you submit it. Or at least, that was how it was supposed to be. She withheld it and thought it was fine? Seriously? Even though it was someone’s personal journal, but there was an ongoing case regarding a very serious matter, that should qualify as evidence. I don’t know if that was an error of the scriptwriters OR just a flaw in the character, but that totally did it for me, not caring for her character at all. She shoudln’t have become a lawyer either if she acted like that. OR maybe she fitted right in with all those flaky lawyers? Seriously, I didn’t even know why Marcus forgave her at all. Sure, she had determination, etc. But she made the wrong call major time regarding legalities.

Supporting:

  • Elaine Yiu as Vivian Cheung Wai Wan (張慧芸). I was really, really surprised they didn’t throw Elaine off the bus this time. Well, in some ways, they did. She cheated, no doubt about it. But I was surprised they redeemed her later and made her character realized what was important during the car accident scene. I was also surprised that they allowed for her to return to her family all intact and didn’t forgo some side drama in that area also. It was strange because I swear I still have PTSD from all the times TVB threw Elaine under the bus because she wasn’t the main lead and was taking on continuous similar roles. I guessed that because they had to focus on other major characters, so they just let her off–or ran out of time. But I liked that she got to portray a lawyer this time around.
  • Natalie Tong as Ashley Cheng Cheuk Tung (鄭妁彤). I never thought there came the day I wanted Natalie to have more scenes. Yes, coming from me who kept complaining nonstop about her repetitive roles. However, this was seriously a different type of role for her and shone through. I was surprised they let her portray this role since it was completely different from her cutesy roles or innocent ones. I actually quite liked this side of Natalie with the professional front, but also a mysterious background–somewhat at first. She was daring, witty and charming. It was indeed addicting to watch her in here. I thought this type of role was more challeinging for her or more interesting to watch than the usual they kept giving her. It seemed more of a challenge.
  • Timothy Cheng as Duncan Yam Suen Yip (任雋燁). He was hilarious. Seriously, he cooked up a lot of schemes for Marcus. One of the rare roles I liked of his. Maybe it was because whenever I watched a series he was in, he took on a less than likable role. So, yes, this one was refreshing for me in that playful and light-hearted way. Of course, he took part in his own set of intense dramas, but for the majority of the time, he seemed to take on a comedic role among their group of senior lawyers.
  • Elena Kong as Judge Amanda Lui (呂官). I don’t remember much about her anymore. But I remember liking her.
  • Sam Tsang as Don Chu Yiu Lik (朱耀力). I kind of liked him at first, then the cheating came into play and I was just like, throw him away. However, for some odd reason, knowing his age, I didn’t find him trying too hard the way Louis did with his lively vibe. Maybe it was Sam’s experience or how his character was that made it less annoying. I don’t know.

Pairings:

  • Ben and Elaine. I remember reading some articles about how Elaine talked about her collaboration with Ben and they worked well together because they knew each other a long time already, etc. I don’t want to disregard all that. I thought it was interesting in a way that they paired up in here and even have a small family of their own. However, I still didn’t feel the chemistry as strong. Sure, I liked them together at times and the way they were at times. It seemed they were comfortable in their roles and their interactions. That was good. But in my weird brain, it didn’t work as a “wow” over the top chemistry as I spotted with some of their past on screen partners. It was still fun to watch though.
  • Elaine and Sam. I know, I must be crazy to be put them in. But I swear they had more chemistry for some odd reason. AND no, I don’t promote cheating or whatever. I hate those people and their excuses the most. However, in an interesting turn of events, them as actor and actress, I found more chemistry with them for some reason. So, what I’m trying to say is if they ever work together in another drama, I would support this pairing.
  • Natalie and Timothy. Normally, I wouldn’t like this repetitive formula. But considering the options of the drama, I found them much more interesting to watch than some couples in here. It was somewhat tragic or maybe just sad when the plot was laid out at some parts. But the ending was seriously hilarious. He had to work super hard for their family of three, lol.

Recommended? I would say you have to love the main cast to watch. It was hard for me mostly because of some of the things I listed up there. So, it wasn’t enjoyable for me. But those who like legal dramas might want to check it out. It’s not in my top 20, but it was somewhat okay to watch.

Ghost Dragon of Cold Mountain

I also watched this ages back but just didn’t review it yet. How was it? It actually started really strong and then died down like somewhere along the way–as often was with TVB series. Not saying it was terrible, but I thought they sort of ran out of ideas after a while and wanted to let Selena portray double roles so that was added to crank out more episodes. I like Selena, okay? I thought her portrayals were impressive, but I found the twins’ storyline unnecessary. So the point? It should have been like 20-25 episodes. Then it would have been perfect because it was actually one of the decent ancient series TVB produced for a while now.

Main Cast:

  • Kenneth Ma as Chu Cheung Sing (朱長勝). Mixed feelings. I meant I like Kenneth and all and appreciated his effort put into the role. But I felt it was an easy win for him. Like there wasn’t anything special that he hasn’t done before in the past. His performance was consistent throughout and he led the audience through the story and convinced us he was that character. However, like I said, it wasn’t particularly challenging. He did as was expected of the role, nothing more. The character was all right. It was a typical smart-aleck character that later turned really dark because of the events of the plot. And oh yeah, he was already on thin lines with me yet what drove it further into insanity was how he criticized Kwan Chiu and didn’t trust her because of her past record YET asked to be forgiven for what he’d done? Well, it wasn’t his fault with the trap, but seriously, the others sure let him off easily for stuff.
  • Rosina Lin (林夏薇) as Yeung Lau (楊柳). I was surprised to like her character in here since I watched her in another series and felt annoyed with her. Looking back, it was possibly the general series itself and how it wasn’t well-written anyway, so the majority of the characters automatically became annoying, lol. But she did a nice job in here, portraying her feisty and witty character. She was very convincing in regard to her strong personality as well as her softhearted side–as the plot led us into at one point. She was my favorite female character in here because she represented the strong, intelligent female lead well. It actually did a character justice for once with strong characters and not steer toward some unnecessary element and ended up becoming disappointing. So, yes, I was glad that her character didn’t get ruin because of the twist of the later events of the overall story. Regarding the side romance story in the 1/3 way into the story, I forgave her. Because the other guy was too cunning. Who could blame her for being tricked? He was indeed a pro.
  • Pierre Ngo as Ngau Dai Lik (牛大力). It was interesting that Pierre got to be one of the main leads once again. It seemed like ages ago that he was. Just saying, lol. His character was so simple-minded. However, it was just that he was too hot-headed at times. Although he appeared rough or tried to be, he was really soft-hearted. Sure, he could be so impatient at times, but he wasn’t a coward at that. He just needed to settle down and be more patient when it came to figuring out the cases itself. He actually had some experiences doing his robber days, lol. So that wasn’t all for nothing. He was just too impatient and wanted to take actions more than sit around and think too much, that was all. I didn’t think that he was too dumb comparing to the rest of the group. However, it made his character different from the rest of them.
  • Power Chan as Ma Chuen Kung (馬川芎). The reason why I started to watch this in the first place was because Power’s character in another series mentioned it, lol. I knew about the series but didn’t want to watch it at that that time it came out, but yeah. Power’s AD got to me, lol. I do like Power, so of course, I checked it out for him. How was his character in here? Unlike his usual hot-headed roles, he was actually calm and somewhat composed in here. Well, he had this arrogance about him that was hard to endure for some characters in here. Yet it made sense because he came from generations of famous medics. It made sense he was proud of his ancestry and his achievements thus far. He did work super hard to get there. So why shouldn’t he, right? Somehow along the way, he managed to get along with everyone and they ended up forming this unbreakable bond, which was touching in a sense. What made me quite upset with him was how he decided to dictate his sister’s life just because he was the older brother. He kept forcing her to get married and all, not allowing her to choose her own path. Sure, he felt guilty and was trying to make up for not being there for her since ages ago. Yet, that wasn’t a good excuse. She almost married that one so-called “model” citizen and got herself killed if she didn’t pull those tricks. So, I guess, what I was trying to say was his overly traditional ways just rubbed me wrong. It gave off major controlling vibe and made him so unreasonable. Not to mention how I could just say he was just trying to get rid of her by marrying her off to some dude. I know it wasn’t, but the way he kept pushing was super annoying. And when I thought I was done with tearing his character apart, I found more. Yes, you would think I was done. But the part where the guys found out how Cheung Sing got Yan Mei Neong pregnant, he lectured Cheung Sing, which he had the right to because he cared. However, what he said along the way made me wanted to scream. He said it was all right that Cheung Sing “went out to play yet can’t invest real emotions into it” aka he approved cheating. Such a traditional type of thinking that made it infuriating. Yeah, you’re all like it fitted with the era because of their old views. But it was a never-changing element in series–regardless of ancient or modern backdrop–that made it ridiculous. He picked and chose what he wanted to follow, just like those scholars back then did. I’m not saying he was a terrible person, considering how he was a product of his time. Yet it was just something I can’t let it slide just because.
  • Raymond Cho as Hung Sup Kau (熊十九). OMG, it was hilarious that he acted all brave and tough and then ran when they tried to ask him some questions. He was also quite scared of blood. Everyone had their weaknesses, but he took it to another level with his fear. It was probably created for dramatic effect and/or humor. It was somewhat of a funny character for Ray. Not to mention a major role as well. Half of the stuff he did and said got me cracking up so hard at times. He was possibly responsible for a third of the humorous scenes in the series. Well, that was until his storyline got really serious and sad–like some of them–in here. This was actually one of the worth-watching roles for Ray. Because they allowed him to perform a more complex character than just some lines here and there and then be on his way again. He could be the comedic element to the plot as an overall yet also had his own storyline as well. He was sometimes too hot-headed, but also had this righteous streak in him that was hard to just ignore. I sort of forgave him for half of the stuff he did because of his background more versus how those so-called goody two shoes scholars who were supposed to be good yet crossed lines like no tomorrow and justified it at every turn.
  • Selena Li as Tou Fa (桃花) and Yan Mei Neong (殷媚娘). Like I said, her performances for both characters were impressive with showing us the differences between the sisters, etc. But it was not that necessary for her second role. Although it did carry some mysterious vibe, they didn’t have to dramatize everything and then killed off her first role just to have Kenneth’s character ended up with the second role. What is with people and their fantasy of being with twins? Yes, I said it. I’ve seen enough of those stories over the years that I’m sick and tired of the approach. They could have been twins and then have the same storyline with her being involved with the grand scheme at the end, but they could have edited out how she was also romantically involved with the same guy as her sister. Seriously? It reminded me of Into Thin Air, which they wasted time on the twins storyline as well, which ruined that series and dragged it out at the end. Although Tou Fa talked like she valued money, but she wasn’t the greedy type who took advantage of others. She knew what was hers and didn’t things without considerations. She was loud and stubborn yet her heart was just so soft at times, causing her to be taking advantage of. She was also forced into maintaining those stupid traditional values just because and it ended up reducing her role to a doormat. That was why it was even more frustrating to see her character die just like that. Yan Mei Neong somehow repented later yet I felt she sure was let off so easily. She harmed so many people and caused so much conflict yet did like one or two things before she was forgiven. Amnesia also aided greatly for her to have a start over. It also made the ending scene ten times more pathetic. And oh yeah, as I looked back for this review, I realized something. Her character could be an intense version of both Cau Yuet and Dong Yee. Why did I say that? Come on, that case was really small, but Dong Yee disregarded her good sisters’ warning and wanted to sold the info to the highest bidder. She was an immature compared to Yan Mei Neong , so obviously, she was brought down too easily. But the concept was still the same with wanting to sell information to get rich. The Cau Yuet element was, of course, the part that was romantically linked to Cheung Sing. However, Cau Yuet had more right to be around and making ruptures in Chueng Sing’s life than Yan Mei Neong. Because she was part of his past, come on. She was dubbed as a third-party because he was married already at that point YET the complexity of the past chapter made more sense if she were to show up and demand answers. Yet somehow, Mei Neong was forgiven and gotten a fresh start over? Well, we never did know what became the life of Cau Yuet except she left (and was fortunate enough to be a life and have afresh start), but I would rather they develop more to that story than tried to recrate that element in here and drag it out.

Supporting:

  • Lau Kong as Fun Nam Tin (鳳南天). Their all fierce leader, but could be quite soft-hearted at times too–when it came to their little group. However, it was revealed later that he had a hidden agenda. It sure threw me off all right. He was a secret agent for a rival country. So, that was a real kick all right. It made sense since Lau Kong wouldn’t portray such a tamed role in such an intense series. Of course, he had to take part in the final episodes to crank up the hype and also the force they needed to end the series on a high note.
  • Eric Li as Seh Bak Nin (佘百年). Trapped in a forever villain cycle, of course, he had to take on the villainous role once again, lol. Poor Eric. But I guess someone had to do it. However, that didn’t mean he slacked off on his acting. Although he was petty in many ways and was jealous of Cheung Sing, Eric brought out the character quite well, allowing the audience to see what type of struggles he was going through. The part where he thought he was doing his best to prove himself, but found out he was just a replacement for someone else was quite heartbreaking. He turned down many opportunities to stay behind, showing his loyalty to them yet couldn’t be compared to someone else who wasn’t around. It sure hurt. In a way, he wasn’t a typical villain as his usual role was with loving to torture others or a spoiled young master. It showed he had a life goal and somehow it showed his journey to going down a less than favorable path later on. Somewhata halfway complex villain since it showed his struggles at first yet totally sent him on a downward spiral that led to becoming a typical villain, getting rid of everyone who was in his path.
  • Candy Cheung as Ma Wan Ling (馬雲苓) / Kwan Chiu (關超). She rubbed me the wrong way from the start. I got it, she had a tough childhood and it made sense she became that way. But I didn’t have to like her. It somewhat improved later just because other elements in the story annoyed me more, lol, so she was let off.
  • Aurora Li as Mo (舞). At first, I thought it was kind of cool sto see another female agent among the group. I was all right with her competitive streak at times and her pride in her capabilities. After all, she did work hard for it. So, that wasn’t a turn off. However, she lost points with me after she made fun of Yeung Lau for being conned by the other dude. Because that was personal attack and pettiness that didn’t sit well with being a special agent. It made her gossipy and ridiculous. The irony? She also got conned by a man, and the worst part? She lost her life. To clarify, I wasn’t celebrating her death, just thought how funny in the most twisted way that her ending was even worse than she criticized others for.
  • Ram Chiang as Emperor Chiu Juk Hei (皇上趙旭熹). Goofy emperor role. I would say he was born in the wrong time. Because he was too simple-minded for such circumstances. Well, his heart was in the right place. But he just didn’t have what it took to rule over so many complex parties and their different agendas. If he had a great group of advisors, it could work. However, those were my initial optimistic point of view. Because this emperor sure deserved all the things done to him. Seriously, he was easily swayed and easily conned. He always fell into others’ traps yet never learned anything. He lacked critical thinking skills severely yet thought he was talented. He often listened to whoever he thought made sense, not thinking for himself. Sure, some traps were so elaborate and complex. Yet, I thought he would at least learn after some stuff he went through. Yet no, he just kept getting worse and worse. It took Yan Mei Neong’s secret message for him to turn around. Seriously. Even if he ended up faking his death to live a simple life at the end, I still couldn’t forgive him completely. But I guess it was about time he stepped down. He really wasn’t suitable to be a king regardless. It was better for him to have that little escape plan via Chuen Kung’s conspiracy.
  • Mary Hon as Empress Dowager Gung Shun Bik (太后公孫璧). I knew she was up to no good. Mary delivered flawlessly, of course. Was there ever doubt? She got it down. Whether it was the arrogance, the cunning nature, the royal air, she nailed it. She brought the character alive through her performance. Not to mention the turn around later that made it convincing. I guess in a way, she was just arrogant and wanted to rely on her family background to maintain her lavishing lifestyle. Because she didn’t approve of the fourth prince’s attempt to overthrow the useless king either. At least, not at first when she found out. Later, she showed legit concern for him, even if she didn’t have to.
  • Cheung Kwok Keung as Fourth Prince Chiu Chun Dhun (四王爺趙存端). No surprise he had to be the evil character again, lol. It just felt a bit repetitive. But he did well. At first, I was rolling my eyes at his list of excuses to snatch the crown for himself. Yet by the time the ending conflicts rolled around, I realized how right he was. The other dude wasn’t suitable to be king at all, only knew how to play and stuff, not taking things seriously. So, of course, I didn’t blame him when he said he didn’t want to help. Why should he? The real reason was, he was already carrying out secret missions via his extensive network. He was just messing around with Chuen Kung when Chuen Kung sought him out for help. It was hilarious really. Come on, no one got hurt, right? It was also strange how they were all uniting to fight outside forces near the end. And somehow, he got his wish with becoming the king at long last. Yet it seemed like he also learned a cold, hard lesson after having at the temple for a while. It gave him a lot of time to reflect while he was away from all that power.
  • Law Lok Lam as Hung Fung (熊峰). Hung Sup Kau’s father. I felt bad for him. His son kept blocking his path whenever he scored some big deal or was going to engage in some side business, lol. He was one of my favorite characters in here because he wasn’t fake. He might be rouge, hot-headed, slick with his moves to stay under the radar, whatever. But at least, he didn’t act all goody-two shoes either. Half of his businesses around town showed his power and his influence. Yet he actually showed up when it mattered.
  • Yoyo Chen as Cau Yuet (秋月). Chu Cheung Sing’s ex-lover. I do feel bad for her. Seriously, how many times did she have to get conned? If one looked at the current situation, one would say she was despicable to try to get together with a married man. However, that was her history, her past with him. She thought she had a second chance–after her tragedies–to reunite with the one she loved. However, she was used as a pawn to solve a case. I thought that she was brushed aside so easily and the scriptwriters downplayed the situation major time just to excuse the main guy’s behaviors. If anyone wanted to have some type of love triangle in here, her character was it. Possibly put in the struggle of seeing a past lover again and his love for his wife, NOT conjuring up the twins sisters fantasy with that triangle at the end. However, the writers just decided it was a good idea to use Cau Yuet and acted like she was the problem. Yoyo isn’t on my top list of a favorite actress, but seriously, the writers did her character an injustice that I couldn’t let go hence affecting my opinions of other characters as well, namely the main couple.
  • Charmaine Li as Dong Yee (冬兒). He killed her supposed “good sister” because she wanted to sell the country’s secret for money instead of handing it over to the proper channels thus helping the country. It was indeed scary. Well, we all need money to live, but she sure took it to another level. Even if she didn’t care for the country or whatever, she could have considered her good sister and all they’ve been through together. Instead, she chose to betray them for a little money.
  • Jess Sum as Chun Mui (春梅).
  • Kibby Lau as Ha Lin (夏蓮).
  • Iva Law as Lee Gwai Lan (李桂蘭).

Others:

  • Matthew Ko as Chu Yuk Lau (朱玉樓). I thought it was all downward for him at this point. It was like there was a time when had more favorable roles. Yet now he was back to portraying despicable smaller characters. Acting wise, I thought he had already made some sort of progress, not so wooden like he once did with his old vicious roles, so I guess it wasn’t really a miss. His character? I already suspected him when he browsed the brothels. Yeah, judging him. But if he was indeed a poor scholar trying to make a name for himself, why was he visiting brothels? He had to focus on his studies and much more. That detail stuck out like a sore thumb. When I watched it for the first time, I thought perhaps, they were trying to mimic another element of those classic stories about scholars meeting an artisan or something. Yet it was soon revealed that he was just some despicable person who thrived on his cons. It actually fitted with pointing out those fake individuals who were good at disguising themselves.
  • Raymond Chiu as Dai Ho Yan (戴浩仁). One of the suitors that Chuen Kung set up for Kwan Chiu. I thought he just had a very small role since they were just playing tricks on him to get him to back off, etc. However, he became a key character in a case later on. He sure was creepy all right. I just thought that he was one of those typical spoiled, arrogant kid. However, he was so cruel, ruthless even, willing to go to the extreme for his greed and selfishness. Appearing in such a brief case, he performed well, carrying through that character with the right touch.
  • Sam Tsang as Chan Gut (陳吉) and Chan Lei (陳利). Another pair of twins for the story. Chen Gut was a conman who posed as a Taoist and was in conspiracy with the empress dowager and the fourth prince in order to dethrone the king by making it look like the king was superstitious and unreasonable, etc. I haven’t watched Sam in an ancient series for a while now and at first, I felt it was such a shame he had to portray such a role. But once again, I guessed someone had to do it, so yeah. It was obvious he ran a cult-like religious group and attempted to influence the citizens through cheap tricks and deception. His unrealistic principles and commandments made it so obvious that he was up to no good. Chuen Kung was right that only the weak-minded were susceptible to his schemes. Then as the plot moved forward and how Sam got an opportunity to portray double roles as well, that cranked my interest up a bit. Chen Lei, unlike his twin brother, was just a normal person who lived a simplistic life by working hard. It was revealed that he knew of his brother’s deeds but did not interfere. He was later tracked down and forced to help them with exposing his brother.
  • Aaryn Cheung as Hak Ci (客似).
  • Johnathan Cheung as Prince of Jurchen Kingdom (金國太子).
  • Jimmy Au as General Fu Man (撫蠻將軍). He was in charge of the cannon ammunition. He only appeared in the last part of the series but played a major role in turning the events around to their advantage.

Relationships – family, friends, romances, etc.:

  • Kenneth/ Chu Cheung Sing and Selena/ Tou Fa. I only acknowledge this couple–even though both characters were portrayed by Selena. Because like I said above, I don’t care for writers’ attempt to fulfill twins’ fantasy once again. That means, in my mind, I edited out that part when thinking of this series if I ever go back to watch it again. Anyway, Kenneth and Selena proved their chemistry as they portrayed husband and wife this time. Both were hilarious in their roles and matched very well. They weren’t just a typical silly couple. That was just the surface. They supported each other through different trials. Yet still learned to maintain a positive attitude each time. That was until the writers went crazy and decided to introduce other formulas into it to tear them apart (aka killing her). She seemed silly on the surface, but understood him very well and actually supported him in returning to become an agent for the special agency. She knew he loved doing that, so encouraged him on. It was obvious that he loved her dearly and would do anything to protect her.
  • Pierre/Ngau Dai Lik and Rosina/ Yeung Lau. They were surprisingly an interesting pairing. I enjoyed watching their scenes together. I guessed they represented the bickering couple in here. Because at first, they didn’t really get along, clashing at almost every circumstance. The only reason why they hadn’t killed each other yet was because they needed to cooperate in order to complete their missions. It wasn’t like they always fought. Because when it came to the most important matters, they had the same mentality. So that helped them with achieving their goals. Or like that one time when they all kept the secret with the others in regard to that one couple eloping.
  • Kenneth, Rosina, Piere, and Power as a team. I really liked seeing them work together. First, they clashed and all. Yet they learned that each and every one of them had a righteous streak in them, so they took that as a good sign and worked more smoothly together. They all learned and grew throughout the events of the stories and cases and eventually becoming almost like family. Their bonds were convincing as the story unfolded with different events happening throughout.
  • Law Lok Lam/Hung Fung and Raymond Cho/ Hung Sup Kau as father and son. It was hilarious to watch to them. They couldn’t be more different. Sup Kau was sooo naive regarding the different deals his father had been carrying on. He thought it was so simple, but that was far from the truth. He had a righteous heart yet seemed to be born on the wrong side hence kept sabotaging his father’s efforts by accident. I sort of felt bad for the father, lol. All in all though, I enjoyed their strange father and son relationship. Both were equally stubborn, so I guess they had that as a similar trait yet it wasn’t a good one to both have, considering how extreme it could get with their arguments.

Likes:

  • Cases. The variety of cases were interesting enough to keep the series going and allowed us to understand the characters more and more through their interactions with others or how they approached the events throughout.
  • Humor. The light jokes here and there cushioned some of the seriousness of the events. However, I thought only the side jokes from some characters made it bearable while others could be too much at times. If only they kept it somewhat consistent with some characters instead of trying to put everything in the mix. It felt somewhat bloated at times. So yeah.

Dislikes:

  • Twins sisters’ love triangle element. Yes, I had to placed it in here as well and continue my petty rants, lol. Again, like I said above, I was fine with Yan Mei Neong being there and her involvement in the major plot later on. I just didn’t like the repetitive formula of having them being involved with the same guy–like many past series had approached it. Just stop it already. It had already been done to death. If I didn’t know better, I would say one of the writers had an eye for his sister-in-law hence using this opportunity to write such a twist in here to fulfill his fantasy. Yes, they (the writers) placed the formula in here, so don’t blame me for thinking that.
  • The importance of having children. Seriously, typical plot formula with forcing couples to have kids just because some bloodline stuff. Although it was more realistic with placing in this bit, considering how it was in the ancient times after all. However, it made for a major turn off for me. I rather they had kids because the wanted kids and NOT because of some duty or obligation they had to fulfill. It would have been even better if for once, they didn’t want kids and were fine with it than forcing the whole concept through. It was just a typical formula that continued to define marriage as an overall and women’s roles in general. (Despite Kwan Chiu’s hidden agenda, she was right when she questioned her so-called “brother” about a woman’s role and what they could and could not do. Granted, it was the ancient times YET she broke past the barriers with her questions.) Well, it was just pure entertainment so I shouldn’t be so bitter about it. But it was a shame that no matter, TVB could never break out of the mold. Also, this was the other reason why I hated that the twins having a link to one guy. Because it seemed like it was compensating for the main guy by giving him a kid later on, just like he wanted thus reducing the second twin role to nothing more than an incubator. Yes, I said it. I’m so done. I just didn’t see the point. Why can’t the writers just leave the story at that after Cheung Sing proved that he didn’t care for the baby thing and somehow they just found their way back to one another? Or just plain scrap that storyline altogether since they couldn’t commit with addressing the no baby situation.
  • Ripped off of Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber formula. I’m talking about how Yan Mei Neong made Chu Cheung Sing promised to do three things for her. Seriously, it wasn’t like Jin Yong invented it with the whole making promises thing. But he made it famous through his works. It continued to repeat through various series already. But because of how overused it had become, it made me even more annoyed hence it gave me even more ammo to attack the plot in general.

Discussions:

  • Assassins turned special agency theme. I read somewhere regarding how it was supposed to be a group of assassins instead of special guards. They actually filmed the promo clip as such. However, it was changed into a similar format as the four great detective guards that Wen Rui An created. Although the current story was considered decent, it was a shame that they couldn’t go with the original theme. Because the four detective guards type of plotline had already been portrayed numerous times already. It would have been interesting to see a group of assassins being the highlight of the series. Talking about the inspiration of the four detective guards, I found it funny that the four main characters were crippled by circumstances near the end yet it took Hung Fung to take some actions within his group. The point? Law Lok Lam portrayed Leng Xue in the ATV version of the four great detective guards, lol. In fact, he was my favorite Leng Xue till this day. No one else had lived up to it, only close second, but that was about it. Well, Hung Fung wasn’t the mastermind behind it, but at least, they needed his group to help as far as resources were needed.
  • The irony of getting rid of the fourth prince and then needing to seek him out later. Anyone seen that one coming? Well, the first time around I watched, of course I didn’t. But I had to laugh at it when watching the second time around, realizing what was going on. The impact of the later events made it seemed like so tamed with the fourth prince’s schemes.
  • The ending. Halfway satisfied actually. Regarding the royal conflicts and various power grabs, it wrapped up fine. The dissatisfaction was obviously coming the fact that the writers killed Tao Fa and turned the romance part regarding Cheung Sing into a joke. So, by that time, I only cared about Yeung Lau and Dai Lik.

Recommended? Once again, I think if you like the main cast, you would love it. And of course, no one is as stingy as like me to notice some stuff, so I think it was a success overall. Hey, I actually watched it a second time to do this review. So, that said something.

Line Walker

If only I watched this series much earlier. Because this was actually one of the good ones in the past ten years regarding TVB series. I guess it was just that when I tried to dive into a series for the sake of Michael Miu, he was portraying some less than favorable character–or it was same old, same old. I didn’t feel there was a challenge for him. Even if he was in that one series with Felix Wong. Unlike some of the past series he was in since he returned, I felt like this was much more up to his par. Aside from that, the plot of this series was decent enough that it didn’t contain those characters that were just too good to be true aka unrealistic. This was a true gray areas series that got you thinking at times more than the tired same old you must let your enemies stomp on you left and right to be considered a good person, so yeah. I was surprised and glad that it stayed consistent throughout. Sure, there were corny moments, but it was just there to buffer the intensity of the main plot.

Main Cast:

  • Michael Miu as Cheuk Hoi (卓凱). Once again, this was one of those series of Michael’s since his return to TVB that I felt was worth it. The last I tried to watch of him was My Better Half with Maggie Cheung. I did like their chemistry together but didn’t like where the story was going, so I dropped it. I even dropped Gun Metal Grey, so there were was that. (Side Note: I felt Gun Metal Grey was just using him and Felix to promote the new generation SO it was a rip-off and not meant to be a Felix and Michael reunion at all, so I didn’t even bother to continue. Although I did like both of their portrayals and his chemistry with Jessica Hsuan in there. Yeah, it ties in with what I said above regarding Michael’s repetitive roles of the past few years.) Anyway, this one gave his character not only capabilities but some depth. He wasn’t a goody-two-shoes at times either. Sure, he wasn’t going to resort to the extreme or lose his head in situations (because of his experiences over the years) but he wasn’t going to sit in a jail cell and rot either. He knew he needed to get out and use his wide networks and resources to get answers. It made him more flexible and realistic than say some typical recent main character TVB often drew up. So yes, I felt Michael had more to work with and try to shape the character more. He, of course, had times when he was unsure of what to do or if he was being a good handler to the others, but he never lost his goal. He felt like he failed Bao Seed when he couldn’t reason with the latter but he knew he had to continue on. And I so fell for it when I thought he might be bad, lol. Not in the sense that the others thought. But I had a feeling like he was hiding something. Totally exuding the Yang Hong vibe at that moment, lol. Like was he really a good guy or nah, lol. But it was the part where he was all like trying really hard to nail Bao Seed. I thought his going to prison later had to do with him finally losing it because in trying to stop Bao Seed, he lost his head. That would be some major twist for the show all right. But it was all an act and we could see another level of acting with Michael himself but also his character as an undercover agent. He was showing them all his capabilities and why he was their handler, not just always sitting behind a desk to enjoy the AC–as some would put it. He was the real deal and he got the experience to back it up. It was a good turnaround all right.
  • Charmaine Sheh as Ding Siu Ka (丁小嘉) aka Ding Jie (釘姐). I think her character in here was a mixture of the characters in Angels of Mission and When Heaven Burns. Yes, the cop identity and how her humor reminded me of Angels of Mission and the goth appearance reminded me of When Heaven Burns. However, the similarities only ended there. Because the events of the plot development led on to other parts of her character that were more complicated. The trials and tribulations she went through shaped who she became later on. In fact, it was a test for her. Her most traumatizing scene must be at the hospital and learning that her adopted mothers had all passed away after that tragic event. It was so frightening and it shook her world to the core. Charmaine brought out that scene really well. Who could imagine? Her safe zone got breached and torn apart just like that. All in all, this was a character worth it for Charmaine fans who wanted to see her in more challenging roles.
  • Raymond Lam as Suet Ka Keung (雪家強) aka Bao Seed (爆Seed). I haven’t watched anything of his in a long, long time although I know he could act. I seriously miss it. But it was because I didn’t like any of the themes or cast he was involved in for the longest time. Sad, but true. I was glad to finally have a role of his that I liked in here and could actually look forward to seeing the sequel when he comes back again. Yes, I went and hunt down some news just out of curiosity and realized they made two more installments–aside from the movies. (Yeah, I’m that behind on TVB-related series and/or movies because I can block it out if I don’t care for it.) Anyway, he showed some acting depth in here. The character was full of layers and he totally delivered at each stage of the plot development. It was addicting to watch what else he was capable of and how his character evolved. It went on many layers of emotional rollercoasters and explored why he took to the extreme with his actions in the name of justice.

Supporting Cast:

  • Sammy as Lin Ho Kan (連浩勤) / Kobe. I actually quite liked him after watching some series that he was just some minor character. So I was glad to see him being a bigger part of the plot throughout. I enjoyed his character and his stories throughout. He sure got what it took to be an agent. Sure, he had his vulnerabilities and his worries at times, it was understandable and very real, considering how and what they had to deal with on daily basis. It was indeed really scary. What got me really mad was giving him that tumor. Seriously? The writers need to lay off the Korean soaps for a bit and steer it back onto the topic or something. I was really frustrated that he wasn’t able to stick it through to the final battle. Sure, he helped a lot while struggling to survive. Yet, I felt they’d taken him out of the game with the tumor on purpose. It made everything so antidramatic in that sense because he’d been there from the start. Now he’s out of the game? I liked the other characters too, but I felt he needed to be there front and center with the others. I welcome some new changes to the plot and not so typical outcomes, but this was pushing it for a cop versus gangsters series.
  • Sharon Chan as Mok Sin Yan (莫羨昕). I had mixed feelings for her when she first appeared. Partially biases because she kept stalking Cheuk Hoi and making it like he was a criminal. However, I tried to step back and see it from her point of view. She was just doing her job and indeed was just cautious. She was at least consistent in her principles and goals. She loved Kobe dearly but tried to keep a level head or at least tried to move on. Her professionalism was also shown throughout. She was always strong and stuck through it, not caring if she lost her job over some publicity game her bosses were playing. She found another way to help others, not just by being a face to the public only. So yes, her principles and consistency were what I loved about her character. Back to Sharon in the acting department though. I mean I think at times she stepped backward and forward. I think I could say she had improved in her old days, but I feel she was still stuck in the same phases at times that she couldn’t pull out of.
  • Benz Hui as Chum Foon Hei (潭關喜). I thought he was going to be a typical gangster that they would bust and then that was it. But it wasn’t so. Sure, he was always smiling (duh, his name, lol), but he could be so ruthless and chilling in many ways. Yet I didn’t think the writers would prop up Benz Hui in this series and even spanning it into two more installments. It was crazy to imagine but this was one of Benz’s amazing roles since whenever. I’m not praising or rooting for gangsters here. But I think plot-wise and characterization, it was really well written with the complexity of his character and how Benz brought forth with his portrayal throughout. You’re scared of him and you know he could carry out a lot of crazy schemes. But you could also laugh with him or cry with him even. For a gangster boss, he was sure relatable in many ways. Of course, I never doubted Benz’s acting since I grew up watching him, lol. But I was surprised TVB could allow the writers to shape his character so that it has become the highlight of the show. Considering how TVB always used veteran actors to prop up their latest batch of newbies. (I don’t hate new people, I just hate TVB politics at times. Also, again, totally poking at Gun Metal Grey.)

Others:

  • Oscar Leung as Cheung Muk Wing (張木榮) aka Muk Sat (木蝨). I swear, I thought he would make it till the end. I didn’t read spoilers or tried not to, so I didn’t realize he was going to be sacrificed as well. It made sense, but still not any less tragic. His death sort of united them as the golden three again, but also fused Bao Seed’s anger even more. He wanted to do something big but didn’t realize how far or how deep things could get with all sides fighting each other and he was caught up in it. It was a surprise that the scriptwriters made it that he liked Ding Jie, but whatever, it wasn’t like a major focus or anything. Once again, Oscar delivered his role convincingly.
  • Patrick Tang as Yip Siu Leung (葉兆良) / Marco. Head of OCTB and was often seen to be in disagreements with Cheuk Sir. It was revealed he was much more involved in the grand scheme than what was let on the surface with his constant rivalry with Cheuk Sir. I never really liked Patrick that much in the past, so this one made it easier to hate him, lol. That probably also meant he had improved in his acting. It would be hard if he hadn’t, lol. But seriously, have to give him credit for making the character despicable enough. The plot didn’t have to make him the mole as well, I already hated him before because he was being a huge asshole to Yan and how he pretended not to care YET had sought out revenge against others and eventually lashing out at her. Of course, he went to the extreme and it later revealed another side of him. I just initially thought that he was just corrupt and didn’t care if he crossed a line to win over Cheuk Sir. I meant everyone crossed the line one way or another at times in here. No one was a saint either way, especially if they wanted to survive when they were going undercover. But his disturbing actions off-work made it harder to like him, especially of his controlling behaviors toward Yan–as stated before. So, yeah, that was a little twist that he was also involved. I was just glad his character and/or story arch didn’t drag out until the end. That would be torture. The writers wanted to focus on the big picture, so it made sense to navigate toward letting the other characters see how big the scale was with the influences the latest gang had in society in general.
  • Lau Kong as Kwok Hok Wah (郭學華). I think I overlooked him, sort of. Because I drew the connection with him being Cheuk Sir’s master and how well they got along. Okay, I was more focused on the fact that they were father and son in The Legend of the Condor Heroes ’83, lol. It was hard not to see the connection, lol. Aside from that, I thought it was cool that they were collaborating on a grand scale in here. Okay, I might have suspected if he was in on it because after I wasn’t really paying attention to Yip Sir, thinking he was just a typical asshole, he turned out to be a mole. I wondered if Kwok knew about it, considering how higher up he was and it seemed like Yip Sir managed to get away with a lot of stuff. So yeah, that was when I suspected him.
  • Elena Kong as Mok Sin Ching (莫羨晴) / Katie. I was a bit taken aback when she first appeared. No, it wasn’t Elena, lol. I knew she was in there. But based on the main theme, she was involved in the court scenes, so I just didn’t expect her story to start from there. It made sense later and I was glad she was able to pull out of such a tragic situation–with some help from Cheuk Sir. I was also glad that they developed her story even more before allowing her to move on with more romance, which I will elaborate on below in the relationships section. Obviously, I had watched Elena since she was with ATV and loved her performances–regardless of roles. So, no complaints about her acting.
  • Law Lok Lam as Kwok Teng (郭正). I swear, I didn’t expect him to be involved as well. I meant, I thought he was just there as a side development to Katie’s story. It made sense for her to return to work and face challenges that would test her professionalism and her sense of justice. Yet his character had taken up another level. Yup, he sure was good at the innocent act all right. It made sense with the schemes they were in. They wouldn’t want to draw attention, just acting normal for the majority of the time.
  • Stephen Huynh as Pong Yin Ting (龐彥廷). He appeared later in the story but was a major character that shouldn’t be overlooked. He was indeed a strong opponent, which made a lot of sense because he was one of the masterminds. It would be a joke if he wasn’t always so cautious of his actions and be suspicious of those around him.
  • Samantha Ko as Lam Hei Mei (林希微) / Amy. I suspected from the start regardless of the fact that she turned out to be another undercover cop or not. She was too suspicious. I was glad they sprung a trap for her later and wasn’t too blinded by the fact that she was also a cop that they overlooked that bit.
  • Skype Chan as Tse On Yee (謝安儀) / Ada. Omg, I sorta suspected her and I felt so guilty for it, lol. Well, trigger response, but half of the population were suspicious at one time or another. You just never know with them. But seriously, she was a very cautious person and managed to aid Yan a lot while she was part of the team and was still alive. I thought she would survive till the end. Like she would somehow escape or fight back. But Yip Sir was indeed experienced with his routine and was prepared, so it had to be that way. She, of course, wouldn’t go down without putting up a good fight–and even left them some clues as well. Another tragic death and a character worth mentioning.
  • Toby Leung as Chiu Mei Yin (趙美賢) aka Yin Chai (賢仔). Cheuk Sir’s niece and also worked under his department. She was quite hot-headed at times when dealing with others. However, some of her anger wasn’t irrational. It showed her righteousness. She was all right I guess. She was just doing her job and possibly even more. I’m no longer sure if she still gets the heat for stuff, but I guess it’s a good idea to keep her out of the limelight for now, lol. This was years ago, but still.
  • Jimmy Au as Hong To Hang (康道行). The unlucky person who was killed off at the end of the first episode. Well, he had to die for the chain of events to unleash. But still, that was a shame not being able to see more of him. Although brief, I really liked his collaboration with Michael and how their characters were friends and understood one another’s mentality. They joked at times and also managed to give one another advice when the time called for it.
  • Chung King Fai as Chin Sui On (錢瑞安). So, he was the real mastermind. It was seriously full of twists and turns to see how it turned out. It took Cheuk Sir going undercover to unearth that one. Many people could see how innocent and harmless he looked, so that was a good twist. But it made sense with the number of people involved that he would have anything to do with it as well.
  • Sam Tsang as Lok Kei (骆祺) / LK. A lawyer. He was seen at times representing some people and was also a strong rival of Katie in the courtroom. However, I wasn’t too sure how much he knew. Probably not enough to get him killed? That they only needed his legal knowledge and what he could do at times? But he did give that weapon to Kwok Hok Wah, which he hid under the table, so I doubted that he was that oblivious to things.
  • Cheung Kwok Keung as Sum Kam (崇金). A rival of Chum Foon Hei who came back for revenge. He was sure scary and sure was crazy enough to measure up to Chum’s scale. However, he wasn’t cunning enough to win.
  • Ankie Beilke as On Lam (安琳) / Amrin. She was a very tragic character. I didn’t like her at first because duh. But seriously, I sympathized with her later, how her adopted father went through to keep her under control and used her for his revenge schemes. Her death was one of the most tragic in here and shook everyone involved to the core. It showed us once again that death was expected when involved in such a situation. We, as the viewers, thought she could finally escape and broke free of that horrible past. However, she chose to return to help and eventually lost her life.

Relationships/ Friendships/ Romances, etc

  • Michael Miu and Elena Kong. Surprisingly addicting to watch. I liked that their relationship started slow and then turning into romance. It wasn’t rushed or too forced, trying too hard to convince us. He accidentally discovered her domestic violence situation and couldn’t stay out of it. I mean, who could? Then he tried to help her and his investigation had led to an even more shocking discovery. Well, on some levels, she probably knew, but she was trying hard to stick around for her ex-husband because of his depression after losing his job and other stuff. But it turned out he was just using those excuses to finally carry out the final part of his plan (aka the final con to get her money). Cheuk Sir was meddling in her business, but he felt the truth was better than lying to herself. She was finally able to stand up on her own and started over. It wasn’t just in the matter of romance. But she learned to live for herself first and got her career back. There were some side encouragements from him and sometimes a little shove in the right direction, but he gave her space to build her own strength. Then they started their relationship. It felt right at different points of the story, not just rushed or randomly.
  • Charmaine and Raymond. I think this is my second favorite collaboration of them where they actually paired up. What was the first? It was actually Lethal Weapons of Love and Passion. Yes, that long ago. Because I didn’t like how their relationship was going to head toward in The Drive of Life–with both of their family histories and all. I gave up around the 20-something mark. I meant to go back but never really could. So I guess I don’t have to go back anymore since I got this one to fuel me. Because seriously, this one was a mixture of cuteness and seriousness rolled into one. They were so funny together when the time called for it and also had some of the most touching moments without making it too dramatic. Well, there were many dramatic scenes, but I felt like the way they portrayed their characters at those points and how they interacted with one another made it natural, not giving off the flakey feeling like in other dramas that created that intensity on purpose to draw in views. Sure, it was created that way, but it wasn’t too obvious because it made sense to the plot itself and the theme surrounding the gangs and all their conflicts. The most dramatic scene between the two of them was probably the part where she confronted him and asked why he didn’t do anything to save her adopted mothers. We, as viewers, knew that he tried and was held down and watched in helplessness. It was really hard to explain it without it sounding like an excuse. How could he say it when he was still processing everything? She also needed to let all her feelings out. But the turnaround to it was how they both needed to cool down and realized what had happened and why it did. He took it to the extreme by wanting to resort to all methods to punish the criminals yet she told him to let go because she reminded him they were supposed to be the lawful cops and doing it according to the books. Despite all the grief and pain that she went through, she was able to see clearly they couldn’t sink to the others’ levels and destroying themselves too. Sure, it mostly had to do with the fact that she had some time to calm down already. But I was amazed that she didn’t go that way. They went through so much together and their conflicts and the consequences of many events spilling out. It was so intense to the point that we weren’t sure if they could ever heal from it. Yet the turnaround wasn’t too corny either. At least, it made sense for me how they healed through time.
  • Sharon and Sammy. OMG, can the writers just leave these two alone? Please? Too late now, I know. But seriously, why must they endure such tragedies? It wasn’t enough that they had a misunderstanding, lost their baby, finally reunited at long last to be separated again because of a tumor? (throwing my hands up in frustration but mostly for dramatic purpose) I mean, come on! I loved watching them and was one of the rare times I didn’t mind such a dramatic romance in the midst of all the intensity. It was a different kind of story from others in here. But that was soooo sad. I mean it wasn’t like it was the first time a tumor separated lovebirds. But these two seriously need a break after all that they’d been through. Sure, she learned to live and she built herself up through his encouragements to help others, not just depend on him, but seriously? It wasn’t like she wasn’t capable before but losing him had really affected her in ways she didn’t realize.
  • The team as a whole. I felt each and every one of them had a bond that was unbreakable for the most part. They started out unsure of one another because of what happened to Hong Sir. Then they learned to work together–through all the events of the story. For some, it took drastic turns; for others, they learned to get past it. There was a variety of reactions that was more realistic than just keeping the constant positivity. They also developed various types of relationships throughout and became more understanding toward one another, which made sense because of how much they’d gone through together.
  • Elena and Sharon as sisters. I didn’t really feel it at first but got drawn into their relations a little more. Maybe it was because how Katie managed to start over and they had more time to bond after what happened. It was also how Yan managed to pull out of the other toxic relationship and was more determined to keep to her goals. Their care and worries for one another at times were enough and weren’t overkilled some other dramas seemed to let on with family relations. Sure, I know people react differently depending on bonds or if it was a family member and all. But I felt their story was more believable.

Recommended? I think this is one of the rare series that I recommend recently, especially for TVB. Hey, especially if you’re fans of the main cast. If you’re a Charray fan, definitely a must-watch.

Between Love & Desire

Let’s say that this series was decent. Considering how I haven’t been back to watch TVB series for a while. I wanted to dive in because of the three main cast. There were mixed feelings since the beginning, especially how they decided to craft a certain character.

Main Cast:

  • Moses Chan as Hugo. This role was somewhere in the middle and I’m talking about the level of intensity comparing to his past roles. Yet I felt Moses did well. He didn’t disappoint. He was stubborn at the beginning and somewhat arrogant (because of his reputation in the field). I half-expected him to be the villain and Ben would be the actual hero. However, it flipped around and proved that things weren’t what it appeared. The background story helped his character heaps and made sense as to why he had become that way. Yet he had gone too far. In a way, he was still the same guy inside, but he was just using the professional front as an excuse for some of the sticky cases he was involved in. He managed to find a balance at the end, which wasn’t unbelievable.
  • Maggie Siu as Rebecca. I read some comments about how some people felt like Maggie’s character was too boring or had no entertainment value. I will say, yes, if you were looking for an overly dramatic performance or plot. To me, it was just right. Sure, there was intensity after her mother died and how she had to continue on, but the majority of her thoughts afterward were going back to stability or not that “exciting” like some people would put. However, I think it was suitable for her character, because she wasn’t a young girl anymore, unlike Roxanne’s character–who was still full of energy and innocence. Not to compare both women but I felt it was necessary in this case–since they were indeed at different points of their lives. Rebecca’s personality and reactions to matters (even if she was upset) were different from how Haley would react and let’s face it, it fitted with their age (and maturity level), depending on their life experiences thus far. I was glad the writer(s) and director(s) didn’t let Maggie go all jumpy like some young girl, because that would be too much. (I must say I wasn’t too thrilled with some of Maggie’s past trying to be cheerful ones like in When Heaven Burns at one point.) Flashbacks didn’t count in here since I know TVB was seriously cheap, trying to not cast an additional actress for a younger Rebecca (or even a younger version of Hugo).
  • Ben Wong as Patrick. Whose bright idea was it to make Patrick so hateful for the majority of the series and then turned it into a goofy character? I don’t know. It was hard not to hate him because of how he tagged Rebecca throughout and tried to jump in when she was the most vulnerable. (It was like perfect timing for him or something, but I was so glad Rebecca never caved in, regardless of how it turned out with her and Hugo.) I would prefer that the writers focused on developing his character along with Haley’s storyline more than just trying to pave him as a possible third-party and then switched gear during the second half of the series, making him into a comedic character. It was indeed different that his and Haley’s link was explained later (aside from being his assistant) but it didn’t help for his cause to make him out to be the bad guy (in someone’s marriage) and then tried to flip it around later. Luckily, Ben’s acting was so charming and great that I forgave him after the comedic scenes rolled around.
  • Roxanne Tong as Haley. Patrick’s assistant and sister-in-law. She wasn’t on the poster but I felt she deserved the main cast spot as much as the other three. Anyway, this was my third time watching Roxanne and I felt she have great potential. I first watched her in Come Home Love, then still waiting to see her character development in Come Home Love: Dinner At 8, and now this one. Her character this time was vibrant and really stood out. She was cute and cunning in her own way. Although I felt that it was an exaggeration with the way she ate at times with how she dragged out the “ummm, good” parts in the middle of tasting the foods that arrived. But that was just me. Overall though, she was quite charming with her comedic acts, which is rare nowadays since people tend to exaggerate too much and cause it to have the opposite effect.

Others:

  • Joseph Yeung as Martin. Another boss role for him. Although he seemed to be busy embroiling in the whole office battle from the start, but when he finally left, we realized he wasn’t just holding on to Hugo for the sake of the money. It was his words to Hugo that we realized he did recognize Hugo’s talent and would love to hire Hugo again one day when he made his comeback.
  • Rachel Kan as Rowena. Hugo’s arch-enemy. There were quite a few comments that I had read stating that Rowena should have gotten more screen time to enhance her witty side and to intensify her battle with Hugo, but I felt it was enough. Just because she wasn’t in the limelight for the majority of the show didn’t mean that she wasn’t smart or cunning. She was plenty of that. I think people need to be able to detect all the cues without it being outright dramatic all the time like some other catfight dramas or power-driven series. Although the plot had directed the attention away from Rowena and the law firm half of the time, but that didn’t mean Rowena wasn’t fighting, wasn’t scheming, wasn’t trying her best to climb to the top. We got to see her intimidating side when she was face-to-face with Hugo yet we got to see her harsh yet effective stances explained when she was talking to her assistant, Cindy.
  • Patrick Dunn as Scott. I honestly think he was the wisest in here. Although Hugo was known as the best but Hugo was still busy feeling the high of his fame to realize the situation around him. Rowena, on the other hand, was also quite confident and bordering on the arrogant side to see clearly at times although I do admit she did know how to play her games. Scott was the wisest because although he seemed to be MIA from the main battlefield, but he often saw more than he cared to say at times. He was able to analyze the situation and even advised Hugo at times when Hugo was stuck–or when Damon was running around trying to fend for himself while his bosses were fighting.
  • Mandy Lam as Carmen. One of the lawyers at Martin’s law firm. She jumped into Hugo’s car at one time, asking for their help in looking for her daughter. However when Hugo needed the backup at the law firm, she was indifferent. I totally understand why with the office politics and all yet I felt it was sooooo cold.
  • Joey Law as Damon. Hugo’s disciple. Loyal to Hugo yet quite raw in office politics hence kept getting the push around by others. I think Joey would go far. He sure got the looks and need more experiences to hone his skills.
  • Candy Chang as Cindy. Rowena’s disciple. I didn’t like her at first, mostly because of my bias, thinking she was in cahoot with Rowena, trying to mess with Damon for information. Hey, it was possible with the rivalry between the other two. Yet later when she told Damon of her past and how she wanted to work hard to get back on her feet, I dialed back with my bias. Not to mention she proved to be really strong and righteous in her own way when she attempted to “show” Damon of the proof Hugo needed to get off the assault charge.
  • William Chu as Justin. Cindy’s ex-husband. It was a bit of a shocker that he and Cindy were exes. But Cindy’s explanation made sense with how they wanted to keep it under-wrap as much as possible, not wanting to affect their careers. He didn’t appear much but seemed to get along well with others and even fended better than Damon. Once again, it made sense because he and Cindy wanted to work hard and start over with their careers, making up for lost time.
  • Lily Li as Rebecca’s mother. I had a little bit of a flashback since they’d been master and disciple in a past series. In fact, it was my first series of Maggie so that left an impression. Anyway, although she appeared just a little and then eventually only in flashbacks, but she really left an impression in here, especially how it paved for the way how Hugo and Rebecca’s relationship crumbled–considering how it was a major trauma in Rebecca’s life.
  • Brian Chu as Fred. Hugo’s brother. I thought that his acting wasn’t as terrible as some people paved it out to be. At least not to me. I could totally feel it after Rebecca’s mother died and he grieved her in his own way–with how he kept his promise to get a new phone for her. Then when he was struggling to deal with his own weaknesses and how he got stage fright and ran away. He was somewhat spoiled because of how protective his brother was of him and wanted what was best for him, aside from pushing him a tad too hard with the whole becoming a lawyer thing. Yet he was indeed quite filial to Rebecca’s mother–like said before, considering how she practically raised him. He also respected Rebecca and others around him. It was just that he was lost in life, not sure of what his aspirations were or what road he wanted to head for.
  • Momo Wu as Edith. Fred’s friend and crush. I wasn’t sure to like or not to like her at first. NOT because of her appearance but I was somewhat turned off with how she stole her master’s shop name to go in to business. Yet when her story unfolded more and how she was a very strong character–despite going through so much hardship, she gained my respect. She snapped right back at Hugo when they first met but proved to be consistent with her character when she insisted on paying Fred back, not wanting Hugo to misunderstand her for clinging onto Fred for his money. I ended up enjoying their banter from time to time whenever their lives were crossed, mostly because they had to look after Fred–with their own method.
  • Eileen Yeow as Ah Fong. Rebecca’s best friend. I really liked her for her spunky personality and her humorous reactions to matters. However, she lost points for me when she tried to push Rebecca toward Patrick at one point. Luckily, she didn’t keep to it until the end.
  • Ricky Wong Chun Tong as Cheng Wu aka Uncle Wu. A friend of the family to Hugo and Rebecca. I initially thought he was related to them somehow yet later realized it wasn’t so. Yet it proved that he was more reliable and supportive of them when they were enduring such hardships, unlike the so-called “family” they supposedly had after their father tragically died.

Relationships:

I initially didn’t want to do this section like I typically would because I felt it was unnecessary since I’ve been piling up on the “Discussions” section, but after debating with myself a bit, I thought I might as well put it in. Or more like move the topics to this one.

  • Moses/Hugo and Maggie/Rebecca. Like many TVB pairings, their collaboration seemed over-killed by now. Yet for me, I think this one was sort of long overdue. Or possibly I haven’t caught all the ones they were in together or paired up. But I felt this one topped it all, even if their other characters were more complicated. I just felt that they deserved a happy ending after When Heaven Burns and Master of Play.
  • Ben/Patrick and Roxanne/Haley. It was in a way “icky” for me, considering how he married her sister previously. Yet for Ben and Roxanne as a pairing, I felt it wasn’t too bad–despite their age gap. For some weird reason, I felt he suited with her more than some of his past co-stars, even if they were closer in age to him. I enjoyed their comedic moments. One of my favorite parts (and possibly for Hugo and Rebecca too) was the part where both men thought both women might have died from the gas inhalation so Patrick totally unleashed on Haley about how worried he was and how rash it was for her to do such thing without waiting for them, etc. It was hilarious how Haley laughed (which was typical her) but it was hilarious with both men saying almost, exact same thing. (I wonder how long they had to rehearse that together, lol.)
  • Joey/Damon and Candy/Cindy. It was sort of open ending, which was all right with me, but I felt they would eventually end up together.
  • Brian/Fred and Momo/Edith. Was I the only one not sore that they didn’t end up together? Not because of her somewhat shady past (according to some people) or his immature nature throughout. But it was more like it would be too gift-wrapped. I think that they were both still young and like Edith said, they still have a lot to work for with their life goals and/or dreams to strive for. Perhaps, one day when they meet up again, they might see a possibility to take their relationship to another level. But right at that point, I felt it was enough with their special friendship.

Discussions:

  • Was the ending rushed or not? Usually, I will argue that TVB endings are rushed, but in this case, I felt it was laid out fine. I didn’t want to be spoiled but my mom made me nervous so I had to go check on some reviews to get the idea if we should proceed after several episodes or not. Some mentioned how it was rushed or how certain characters changed overnight more or less. However, I think it wasn’t rushed for the majority of the characters. Hugo and Rebecca didn’t change overnight regarding how they decided to return to each other’s side. They had always had feelings for one another but they were both too stubborn in their beliefs that they didn’t want to cave in. Although Rebecca had said at one point or another that she didn’t know if it was love that she still stuck by his side after so many years or it was just gratitude for what he’d done for her, but I felt that she still cared for him. It was just that so many years of waiting had worn her down and not to mention her mother passed away so recent. Her world was falling apart and she didn’t know where to start with continuing on with her life. It wasn’t just about Hugo’s lack of attention either. Then there was Hugo, we learned from the flashbacks that he was quite kindhearted, hardworking, and considerate. It wasn’t like some viewers had said that he changed for the better overnight. It wasn’t so. He had lost his way along the way while trying to become rich and successful. He often struggled with his feelings and what he thought was more realistic throughout–even after the separation from Rebecca. He needed a push from Uncle Wu and then later from Scott’s kid to realize what his path should be or to make up his mind at long last. So when he was willing to let go of the competition and the battles within the law firm, he and Rebecca just fell back into being a team once again. Because even Rebecca realized at the end that she didn’t have to wait for him all the time, she could just step forward and walk along his side, facing difficulties together. What I felt was rush–YES, I will admit–was Patrick’s change of heart. But possibly it made sense. I meant Patrick was really disappointed and probably upset that Rebecca was willing to believe Hugo one more time after the incident where she was assaulted. Yet I think what convinced Patrick to let go somewhat was learning how much Hugo loved Rebecca, i.e. the part where Hugo lost his head and was willing to risk getting caught when he beat the uncle-in-law up for assaulting Rebecca previously. He wasn’t letting go completely but he realized Hugo wasn’t a monster like he paved Hugo out to be from the start, seeing how much Hugo hurt Rebecca–mostly from his point of view. He was able to see a different side of Hugo, even if violence wasn’t the best approach, but like Patrick himself said that it proved how much someone meant to you if you had lost your head over a situation. So later when he saw them (Hugo and Rebecca) at the hospital together and how they’d gotten along again, he was more convinced that they were going to get back together eventually. He looked hopeless, like his chance was totally slipping, no doubt about it. So it wasn’t like it was overnight. Perhaps, it was also because he didn’t realize he had somehow liked Haley hence the over-protectiveness, not just because he had promised her sister to take good care of her. It was somewhat a plot mess with that one, but it wasn’t too unconvincing. Moving on to Rowena, did she just plain win the office battle overnight? No, I think I answered this somewhat in the Character section, but to tie it in, Rowena was proven both intelligent and brutal. The time it took for her to take over completely wasn’t unreasonable, she had plans and schemes going on. Sure, it seemed she won because Hugo got distracted with his family issues or when Hugo let go, but it didn’t mean he totally gave it to her. She was fully capable of her own tricks. Again, like how she told Cindy at various points with her tactics, it wasn’t too unconvincing that she won in the end. Besides, you don’t win a battle by kicking and screaming for blood. Patience is the key because you need to be able to stay calm and wait for the right opportunity to strike. Sure, Rowena miscalculated several times and took several steps back, but she didn’t give up so easily. Her determination pulled her through at the end.
  • Should the series had focused more on the law side (aka cases over romances)? Although the background surrounding several major characters were at law firms and had to do with the law industry in general, however, the title still indicated that it wasn’t exactly about the law, but about several characters so I didn’t feel like it needed to focus on the law too much. I swear TVB had already done quite a few series regarding the law so I didn’t think it was lacking in that matter. They didn’t promise in the title so I wasn’t sore. This was about the conflict between Moses and Maggie’s characters more than a law focused drama.

Recommended? Up to you. I’m on my own wavelength like always. I felt it was a midway lighthearted series for me because Maggie didn’t die in here–since she usually died (or would encounter some major tragedy).

The Zu Mountain Saga: The Tragic Couple

When people talk about this series, they often shift their attention to the main leads. (Duh, right? I know.) But to me, I shift my focus to the Hero In White Sun Nan (白俠 孫南) and the fairy Xie Ying (天都仙女 謝瓔). (Click here for an MV someone made just for them.) I felt their story was both touching and genuine. They were soulmates, communicating through music, and understanding each other in ways others wouldn’t. They had a lot of trust and respect for one another. They’d been through a lot together yet their fates ended tragically. Many stories nowadays tried to be so dramatic with their dragged out storyline that often lost its purpose in the end. So yes, this one story stuck to me whenever there was any story relating to fairies and humans.

Sam Tsang had returned to TVB in recent years yet I still do not know what happened to Vindy. Or perhaps I’ve been so out of tune with Hong Kong related news that I haven’t heard.