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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.