Miss Hong Kong 2001

Definite signs of deterioration. No doubt about it. Though the opening was interesting but still…the entertainment parts were always way better for some reason. I must say that each year they managed to come up with a different theme. Not bad. The contestants were introduced and they had to list why they were eligible to enter the next round. Man, most of them were definitely bragging. Guess they were testing to see if the contestants could be witty without being arrogant. BUT it was hard.

The hosts: Eric, Louis, and Sonija…

Judges: Pauline, Gallen, Charmaine, Hacken, and some others…

Definitely signs of TVB using internal resources more than ever. Gallen looked so handsome though! (mwuhahaha) Charm looked so cute in that outfit. (Okay, I know half of the population hates her but I love her since she won me over.)

Scenes when they were outside usually made them look better for some reason. Strange…

After Patrick Tang and some people performed, we were finally led into the questioning part. PHEW…not sure how worse it could get but whatever. Sonija got to introduce the contestants while Eric and Louis were in charge of grilling the contestants. GOSH…it was killing me. Eric and Louis should’ve killed them all already so they couldn’t pass. #6 was all right. At least she didn’t stutter. (Though it was all right that she mixed her languages.) Where in the world did they get all these contestants? AND poor Eric, had to look up so much. These girls were honestly too tall. #18’s question was funny. George Washington was still holding the ax, LOL! Darn! These girls were killing me. Shirley’s question was the easiest BUT she didn’t get it? How slow could she get? Only like about three could provide some decent answers.

Jordan Chan will take them to Japan? Poor Jordan! I actually liked the effects where Jordan was drawing/painting and the pictures came to live. That was about it. Then there was also the part they were transported to the city and other areas. Very exotic and cool. That was about it. No comment regarding the ‘beauties’. I thought they looked better when they covered up because their bodies were too much of a sight to me. (Seriously, I must agree with Eric that most of them looked like they haven’t gone through puberty yet.)

Last part before they picked top 12? Joey Yung and Ekin Cheng. (What a coincidence!) Joey Yung looked better than the contestants! (I know that was mean but honestly.) Interesting story. Kind of cute… I’d already gone out of the ‘Ekin’ phase so I wasn’t really paying attention. (But I think Ekin must have improved in his singing or something? Since he sounded better than the last time.) The settings were quite grand though. The crew totally made it happen.

Miss Photogenic? Shirley got it? Umm…no comment. I guess she seemed better than most of them for some reason.

They were each given a lamp and would take the label off. The ones who got the ‘X’ would be out.

Gilbert Lam was the person who introduced the judges at the beginning of the second part? Cool! I totally forgot about him! He’s so cool. Too bad he didn’t get to stick around much. Or perhaps that was better since it would be too much to stand.

(I didn’t want to say it before but I was seeing the pattern of Angels of Missions people in here. BUT of course, AOM was after this. Still interesting to see.)

I totally forgot that Leon was in here also since he opened up the show with his performance. (Snore-land though it was an upbeat song.) The whole time he was singing, I was like, “Hand it to Aaron already.” Mean, I know. But I was yawning too much. He’s not suitable for upbeat songs.

The next part was funnier though–much more entertaining–since Hacken was seen walking along with Natalis and Alan on the camels, trying to find their way to the show, LOL. Natalis and Alan were pondering if they were lost, LOL. And then Hacken was saying they heard Leon’s voice so they must be going in the right direction. Alan was even saying how Hacken was easily fooled by Eric’s words (i.e. he was the one who told them the directions, lol). Then the contestants got to tell everyone their dreams and/or goals. But Natalis, Alan, and Hacken’s rants were funnier. Eric had been in some sort of accident (according to their recounts) so he was unable to make it.

The next part was cool since they managed to invite this one pro acrobat lady to do some really cool tricks. Then Bernice Liu came out, dancing and singing. Cool. Suitable for the theme. She was so glamorous. Okay, the contestants had to use the objects given to describe one another. They were divided into pairs, of course. I loved Alan and Hacken! They were so funny, arguing with each other like that instead of asking the questions, LOL. Bernice changed again to continue the song–or at least until the next sets of contestants came out. Watching the contestants try to find some compliments to praise each other with the objects given was too funny! At least they were improving. OR it seemed to get a tad better than having them answering trivial questions. Bernice changed again! Whoa! That was fast. Anyway, still cool.

Okay, the next part of questioning–more trivial questions, LOL. There were three sets of questions–middle school, high school, and college. (OR something like that.) If they answered correctly, they would advance one step up. If not, they would be lowered one level. The questioning would start at their current educational level. The contestants changed outfits again. Nice outfits, LOL. I think the contestants were better in these set of questions since they were more used to the straight fact question/answer than the critical thinking ones. At least it was reassuring on some level since it would be more encouraging to watch. Shirley did slightly better in this one.

The next part was a really cute yet entertaining story. Aaron Kwok and Coco Lee. (I was a bit surprised that they were able to invite Coco to participate.) Aaron got to sing his “Para Para” song! LOL! (This sort of solved my question with why Aaron wasn’t opening before. This was more fun.)

Anyway, after that, we got to witness the contestants sing and dance with 60 children. The children were so cute! (I don’t know, I just didn’t care as much for the contestants regardless of how much they improved for this round.)

They were trying to do it differently this year. Getting rid of three at a time until they reached the top 5. Don’t know it would come to that but I guess it was something to keep people tune in. Hacken was so funny!

Eric’s return. Awww…Alan was subbing for Eric. Just when Eric returned, they made him be the bad guy to eliminate three contestants, LOL. Still funny. What was Hacken looking at, kept staring at Eric’s head? So funny that Eric was reassuring the others to come back next year, LOL.

More questionings. They were given a statement and then they had to pick if they agreed with the phrase or not. Then they had to argue for or against it. Alan was too funny! He lost during the first time! He and Hacken were cracking me up! Hacken was saying how Alan was only the witness and did not have to input. It got even funnier when they were attempting to translate for this one contestant. Then Alan translated before she was even finished. Natalis was poking at Alan for it. (Actually, he was pretending to talk about Alan with Hacken, LOL.) Man, it was way funnier watching the hosts argue. Man, Natalis’ comment!

They invited Anne to help with determining who had beautiful skin? Shirley got it. I guess the judges were careful and inspected everything so no complaints.#3, #9, and #18 got the creativity prize since they were able to impress the judges with their cooking skills and creativity.

I totally forgot that Jacky was in here! Cool! I guess it wouldn’t be complete without him. Jacky and Kelly Chen? OKAY…but for all the fun of it. Funny ending since he was just dreaming and his wife (portrayed by Kelly) was rousing him up. So much for it…(LOL) Again, save the best for last, right? Since it was supposed to be the last performance before they eliminated three more. But the top 12 got to return so they could announce the ‘most improved’ prize and the Miss International Goodwill. #4 got ‘most improved’ and #6 got Miss International Goodwill. Not bad. I don’t know. Somehow they looked better around this time.

Alan, Hacken, and Natalis were arguing over who should sing for the last part? But they ended up using the dancing routines to determine who was the top 4. At least they didn’t have to argue. That was interesting that Johnson Lee was one of the ones holding the sign up when they were answering the last round of questions. #2 and #3 got eliminated after that.

The ones who were eliminated had to come out and tell us who they supported to be the winner. #6 got third place, #4 got second, and of course, Shirley got first. Not bad. NOT the best of all time, but I guess it will have to do.

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The Brink of Law

I must give this series a solid 5 on my scale. It was soooo good. The fact that the beginning to the end was so fast pace and the fact that it actually wrapped up quite well was good too. One of the rare TVB series that was so well written in recent years. Every one of the cast seemed to do really well also, which was amazing. Yes, there were some cliche parts here and there, but there were some of the most unexpected parts happening too. I was hesitant to watch it at first because I was so afraid that some cast might ruin it or wasn’t up to the part, dragging the series down, but several people surprised me totally.

What I like about this series:

  • Steven Ma and Bernice Liu – This was before Steps but we could see that they definitely have chemistry as lovers as well as a team. Their characters always meet wit-per-wit so it was really interesting to watch in general. Steven was very clever as Chi Ko (Ken) the lawyer. Bernice Liu’s character, Wing, was a surprise since she was supposed to be a psychologist but it turned out she was a cop. That was a great twist also. Her moves were great with the kick and all. She did look like a cop.
  • Ron Ng and Kate Tsui – Surprisingly, both improved from their previous performances. What was even more surprising was Ron was actually impressive in his role. Although he still needs work, I think I wasn’t prepared to see him perform so well, so natural and not exaggerating or too woody like past series. (The reason why I want to avoid watching him as much as possible in the past.) But this was totally different. Kate is really working hard nowadays and deserves some kind of recognition for her improvement. Their chemistry wasn’t bad at all either. At first, I wasn’t all for the idea but was surprised. Such a tragic that Ron had to die at the end. It was a shocker since there was only about 30 minutes more until the series ended. The scene where Kate cried so hard after they discovered the body was very touching and Kate really brought the scene out. It was such a heartbreaking scene. I think she did even better in this scene versus when Kenneth’s character died.
  • Law Lok Lam and Ron Ng as father and son – Although they were not really father and son, Leo still respected and treated Chin Pang like his father. Too bad they had to meet the same fate in the end.
  • Michelle Yim was really good as the villain with some psycho obstacles of her own whenever she felt threatened. It was a great choice to cast her as Kam Chi because she outshone Elliot Yue and convinced the audience that she was the only villain and that she was the leader, instead of Elliot’s character, Chin Lung.
  • Shirley Yeung – Yes, she was an annoying villain–very manipulative and probably even more hateful than Michelle Yim’s character, but I must admit her character played a very important role in causing many ruptures between different characters, especially Kam Chi and Chin Lung. It was a surprise also that Shirley could play such a role also, aside from her annoying spoiled roles or cute, funny ones. (Possibly due to pointers from Michelle Yim?)
  • Steven and Kenneth as best friends – Great to see them together as buddies at the beginning, joking and laughing together. Not to mention being there for each other at harsh times.
  • Mary Hon – She finally got a role worth praising again although her character sacrificed a lot. Luckily, everything turned out all right in the end.
  • Yoyo Chen as Steven’s step-sister – The fact that she was annoying for the first few episodes was just a start, but the turning point was really great and not fake since it took such a gunfight/massacre for her to realize the importance of family. It was also interesting to see the shift in expression–both eyes and face–how she was so mean and nasty at the beginning and nice and calm toward the end. Her acting was worth a mention since it was quite convincing.

The only complaint I have for this series was probably seeing Fred Cheng as a small character in here. It was like wasting his acting for a role they can’t find to fill. But I guess he was busy filming other series? It better be. It would be a shame if he shifted down in the ladder again. Since he really has potential.

Great series overall.

Posted (on Xanga): October 11, 2008

Re-posted: Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Pages of Treasures

Okay, so finally finished watching this one after putting it off for a bit. Strange that they should try to pull the “triangle” thing like toward the very end of the series. There have been hints here and there with Alex and Hillary, but to start some mess toward the end is just pointless. It doesn’t prove anything at all. (I still see the chemistry between Alex and Hillary more than Alex with Abbie. Both appearances and personalities. Maybe because Eric seems very uncomfortable around Shirley although he’s trying hard to make it natural and it seems like his character, Alex, really loves her character, Abbie. We can see that through various gestures and things he did for her, but there’s something missing. Still too awkward if anything. For once, I would like to see the second leading guy ending up with someone else instead of the second leading girl. It’s just too typical that it’s not even interesting to watch or anticipate anything more. IF they had put at the beginning that he met both girls at the same time and somehow like both girls, having to choose–it would’ve been better and fairer for Hillary. That’s another typical plot but still better to see than the pointless scenes of meeting Hillary and having her play the bad person.) I think that they’re focusing too much on the whole Abbie, Alex, and Hillary triangle that they seem to stray from the story as an overall. I would like to see more of Wayne and Sonija scenes as Ming and Chung. It’s like although they appear a lot too, I feel they’ve been robbed as of their time spent together. It’s like the script just barely squeezes in their shared screen time or something. I love to watch Eric, but I feel that Wayne is once again robbed even if this is supposed to be his first leading role.

Aside from that frustration rant, ‘Like’ factors are:

  • The bond of the Fong family. Even if the mother seems unreasonable at times and is too pushy with making the whole family stay together, but everyone has a great bond overall. They are supportive of each other, especially the father toward them.
  • The chemistry between Wayne and Sonija as Ming and Chung. They’re just too funny together and their interactions are just too much to watch. It’s one of the most joyous moments of the series itself. Yes, there was the whole misunderstanding thing at the beginning of the series, but that was resolved quickly. They’ve become friends and the constant bickering and the support for each other is just great also.
  • The message of the importance of knowledge. The most disappointing factor is that it got lost among all of the other themes in here. But was brought back into focus with the last few episodes. Still, it does no justice.
  • Paul Chun and Mary Hon as husband and wife. I find it very refreshing that for once, Paul’s not portraying a man who takes care of his own kids by himself. It’s great to see the interaction between this old couple. Yes, Mary’s character is annoying at times but it really complements with Paul’s character who’s passionate about books and his calm side makes up for her stubbornness at times (and vice versa, depending on situations).
  • Stephen Huynh and Sharon Chan as a couple. It’s just hilarious how they got together and thus leading to Pansy getting the treatment she has always wished for (i.e. her scar).
  • Eric Suen and Vivien Yeo as a couple. Yes, I have to put them in even if I hate the triangle. I love their chemistry together. Even if they meant the characters to have so many flaws, but I like them together. Eric is so comfortable with Vivien that makes it better to watch them versus when he’s trying too hard to act lovey-dovey with Shirley.

Things that they should have focused on instead of the triangle:

  • More on the importance of reading and enhancing your knowledge and less on the romance (especially Alex’s side). I really like it that they emphasize this strongly and remind us not to abandon books over technology. However, it lost its purpose and message after developing too much into the romance department. We’ve seen the importance of the books through the father and how the bookstore was opened. But it seems to only exist so they could come in and chat or socialize instead of focusing on books as a major theme.
  • Sharon Chan as Pansy. I would rather they give Sharon’s character, Pansy, more background and develop her character more. She has some good in her but because she’s so aggressive to drive for her career and the fact that she has a scar that caused her to resort to selfish means thus looking out for herself only. However, I rather see how she learns to appreciate Chung slowly and let things continue to improve between them slowly than see that it gets squeezed in the last few episodes. Probably they don’t want to tone down her lively personality by making her too virtuous but squeezing in some last minute stuff isn’t all that believable either. However, Sharon’s acting is so charming and funny that it’s hard to hate Pansy. And maybe because there are fewer scenes of her so it’s hard to hate her.

Since I complained so much about the Abbie, Alex, and Hillary triangle, I guess I have to break it down and analyze further to explain why I actually dislike this triangle so much.

First off, Alex’s character:

  • Filial son and a good brother (to both siblings). In short, he’s a family man and always tries his best to provide for his family and gets along with everyone all around. He really wants his family to be happy so he will try to do anything to make it work with everyone’s expectations. There are conflicts at times between him and other family members, but they do calm down and try to understand in order to make it work.
  • Intelligent. It can’t be denied that he’s a very intelligent person–mostly because of his educational background.
  • Tech-freak. Yes, it’s his passion and his career. It’s noticeable how important it is to let him see the knowledge in the books versus his over obsessiveness with the tech-world.
  • The too perfect exterior. We see too much of him being the filial son and the caring brother, plus not to mention the considerate boyfriend with the whole “chat” at the beginning of the series. It paves out a great image for him, which is more ironic to see so many holes in the relationship with him and Abbie yet it still worked in the end because TVB said so.

Second, Abbie’s character:

  • Career woman. She’s a career woman not because she chooses to be that way but because she has no other choice than to be one since she doesn’t have any family left (except for her nephew).
  • Pessimist. This can’t be helped since considering how her past was with an abusive father and how her mother ran out like a coward to leave her in such a mess. So this is a great setup because the pitiful characters usually get more sympathy.
  • Intelligent. It sets out a great foundation for her with her reading knowledge and how well she gets along with Alex’s father. There goes her bonus point again.

Third, Hillary’s character:

  • Filial daughter. Whether the mother deserves it or not, but must admit that Hillary is a very good daughter. She cares for her mother a lot and shows it through various actions. Their mother-daughter relationship is really good. However, it reeks of irony no matter how you look at it. It seems like the mother’s trying to make up for her past wrong with putting so much love toward Hillary. It makes it sickening sometimes too that she thinks she could be forgiven. This also sets up a death-trap for Hillary since she automatically gets blamed because she gets all the love and attention thus she’s wrong. (Oh puh-lease, could the scriptwriter grow up for two seconds?) I feel even more pity for Hillary since she didn’t do anything wrong (just because she’s the one living by the mother’s side at that point). Hillary’s a good daughter that’s why she feels the need to defend her mother and try to understand her, but it doesn’t make her the shameless sister. (So why did they put in the typical boyfriend snatcher thing for her? To make her character more hated by others?)
  • Career woman. She’s dedicated to her work and welcomes new challenges. She’s also professional toward her work even if there are conflicts among her and other colleagues. It shows that during her intro scene and various scenes later into the series.
  • Romantic. She’s probably a hopeless romantic at times thus leading to her easily getting deceived by that one dude at the beginning of the series.
  • Not the wisest. The scriptwriter sets her out for destruction and probably a guaranteed way of getting the viewers to hate her by showing us how she was involved with a married man at the beginning. However, she does learn her lesson and decides to not be a third person in relationships anymore. It does show promise in her character but the good image has already been ruined since we would always remember her as the girl who once tried to ruin someone’s marriage. (Yes, stupidity even if she does learn to smart up a bit.)
  • Wishy-washy. She tends to get easily persuaded sometimes and doesn’t have enough self-control. Why does she have to go after the guy her sister dumped? It’s lame. Yes, he’s a potential candidate or good one, but come on now! WHY in the world did she look so happy when she hears that they’ve broken up? What was that?! Ugh! (I call it the scriptwriter’s conspiracy to bring her character down with this thing and score more points toward Abbie.) Yes, she gives up in the end because she knows how much Alex cares for Abbie.

The result? A mess. Definitely. From various points, Alex and Hillary match more in that they have this undeniable tacit understanding. However, if people want to argue that opposite attracts, it’s fine too. I think because of TVB’s attempt to give more advantages to Abbie’s character that it ruins the whole thing. It turns out making Alex the bad guy and the whole triangle just crumbles down to a bunch of nonsense.

Alex and Abbie as a couple:

  • Cute. Cute is actually a nice word for childish. Honestly, yes, the cute message is spread all over their interactions and forces us into believing that they’re actually meant for each other, etc. It makes me want to roll my eyes every time I see their “cute” interactions. It’s trying too hard to show their bond. It’s too much on the surface that it becomes fake. It’s more convincing when they’re alone thinking of each other or doing things for each other–more him than her–that they really care for each other, but it’s just plain odd when they’re together. (Like I said before, lack of chemistry. And possibly because he has to jump through too many hoops for her that it’s too unconvincing. His fault for choosing it, but the script sucks big time in the convincing department with how much they love each other.)
  • History. So they have some history together. Does that mean definite success in the relationship? Yes, it helps a lot so that’s why TVB decided to pair them off from the beginning to secure Abbie’s place in Alex’s heart and us viewers have to believe that Hillary is actually the evil sister and a boyfriend snatcher. (Yes, I’m rolling my eyes again.)
  • Hot-headedness. Yes, they seem very cute together–when they get along. But when he disobeys her? There’s the whole tantrum unleashing and the only way he could calm her down is to give in to her ideas or reasoning. Not to mention that he would try to apply logic into the whole matter, which is even more frustrating. What’s with that trying to explain to her when he already made a mistake? It only adds oil to the fire.
  • No Trust. Okay, the beginning of the story makes Abbie the reasonable girlfriend who trusts Alex completely with Hillary so it automatically is his fault for lying to her. (Lying is never good but his reasons are valid because he cares for Abbie’s feelings.) She’s upset when she comes into his company that one time so his automatic reaction would be to not trouble her with such small things. (Since he doesn’t think of Hillary in that way, right?) It’s probably a wrong move to make up an excuse like that, etc but his intention was good. (I’m not encouraging for people to lie away, but in this case, I just want to clarify that part since he wasn’t even thinking of cheating on her or wasn’t even dating Hillary behind her back.) Lie number 2 (if counting by sequence, it’s actually #1) is about the song that he said is still unfinished. Whether or not he wants to conceal it as his and Hillary’s song or not is debatable. However, I think it could possibly be that he does want to create a different song just for Abbie without Hillary’s help–or anyone’s help for that matter, considering how much he loves Abbie and only wants what’s unique for her. Yes, he seems so into the song when he’s playing it with Hillary at the musical instruments shop, but it’s because of his passion for music and their common interest. (To Abbie, it must have been a heavy blow since she only sees it through her POV, but I just want to debate a little about it from a viewer’s POV.) She has every right to get mad and I couldn’t care less, but I thought just to be fair, she did lie to him about already finding her mother and what has been going through her mind. He’s too dumb sometimes regarding not taking enough hints, so it’s better off if she says it. (Considering how they dated for several years already, she would’ve known him better than react that way. Same goes for him just to be fair to both sides. He’s an idiot for not handling things better. Not wanting to trouble her with stuff is one thing, but hiding too much stuff will make her paranoid.) So the whole hiding thing just proves that there’s no trust or lack of trust in this relationship. It’s just a fake exterior the scriptwriters created at the beginning for both characters just to spice up the “cute” relationship. This leads me to the next point.
  • Fake Commitment. Another reason why this relationship doesn’t work is because of false promises from both sides. Yes, Abbie seems quite unreasonable at times and only Alex could tolerate her (until he couldn’t take it anymore), but he DID promise to stick it through with her and try to help her with erasing the past memories she had of her brutal childhood. What did he do? Yes, he tries to get her to see that it’s not all scary with family and bring her into his family so she would feel a sense of belonging. However, it’s like he’s trying to do this as fast as he could in trying to convince her to stay in Hong Kong so he could be with his family before the two-year agreement expires. (HUH?) I honestly want to hit Alex over the head with something. (So he could become dumber and it would make more sense than see him in such an intelligent suit and yet he fails to use common sense.)
  • Conclusion. They’re so not ready for a relationship–the way I see it. ‘Cause honestly he’s dedicated to his family more and she has too much past baggage in her to carry on such a relationship. She actually doesn’t need a boyfriend but more like someone to spoil her rotten and make up for what she lost in the past. (I do NOT blame her for what happened but that is what she had become.) Alex is not ready for it either since he keeps pressing her and persuading her to stay in Hong Kong and accept his family. However, he doesn’t realize that’s not the point about accepting his family. It’s about her family. He needs to focus on getting help for her–like getting her psychological help. (Cliche but better than what he’s doing since they jump into trying to get the mother psychological help asap when they found out what might have happened to her so why not apply that with Abbie as well in the beginning?) Like all his mantra about how good his family is could help her put it all behind her. It does help a bit but it just doesn’t erase her nightmares away right there and then. They’re just too wrong for each other because both want to be right. Yes, he does try hard to make it work and she probably did too but the approaches are so off that it makes me wonder about their intelligence, especially his since he’s a bright guy (or it’s what the script meant for his character to be) yet he can’t seem to do it the realistic way. He did persuade her to stay in Hong Kong so that means he’s willing to sacrifice. So although that little “ice cream” thing is somewhat cute when he has to sneak around and eat it, it’s irrelevant and immature that he would complain when he knew what he was getting himself into when he wanted to help Abbie. Why does everyone else have to pity him when he signed the contract already? It’s his choice. (I like Alex a lot, but I just don’t see the twisted reasoning behind it all. It’s not like she forced him, he agreed to it without giving it a second thought. He should blame himself.)
  • The reason why they actually end up together: Because character-wise, it has been built in by TVB to seal Abbie’s place with Alex from the start. Not considering how it would earn her mega brownie points with the whole taking the stab for Alex’s mother. I don’t hate them as a couple but I just thought the script was trying too hard to make it work.

Alex and Hillary as a couple:

  • Serious yet carefree. It makes it almost ironic that Alex and serious should be associated together, considering his childish moments at times. However, he’s very comfortable with Hillary when they’re together with how they operate–considering they have the same mentality–at work; and when they’re together as friends. It gives off a very comfortable image and how he would be so happy that he is able to eat ice cream or enjoy other things. Their topic of conversation touches on the serious side more frequent yet there are traces of a playful side as well. (This is possibly due to the fact that because they are friends that he doesn’t feel pressured or the need to impress her, but it just seems so lighthearted and refreshing at times when they’re together.)
  • Tacit understanding. They have this bond toward each other that sometimes things don’t need to be said or explained but they get it. It’s very genuine.
  • Chemistry. Yes, it sort of got covered in other categories already but just want to put it separately to emphasize my point. It’s also the reason why I don’t see that she’s a rebound. (They do care for each other, but it’s just that the script seems to convince us that he loves Abbie more.) He’s really considerate toward her with switching places with her during the employees meeting organized by their boss at the hotel conference room. He’s really happy eating ice cream with her when they’re finally dating and seems to be more comfortable. There are other gestures too so it makes me feel like he feels guilty toward Abbie near the end and sort of unwilling to part with Hillary than love for Abbie. It’s too strange. (Or it’s just Eric’s acting!)
  • Height. A bit irrelevant but this is brought up lots of time. They’re both 173 cm so they’re the same height. But it’s because she’s wearing high heels the majority of the time so it looks like she’s taller than him.
  • The reason why they’re not together: TVB said so. And also because how their characters are set like that. I know it’s supposed to set up the hospital breakup scene for Hillary to finally let go because she sees how much Alex cares for Abbie, but it’s just wrong and sad that the way Alex looks at her when she leaves. It’s like he doesn’t want it to end. (How could it be so ironic? Blame Eric for forgetting he should be caring 100% for Shirley’s character and not Vivien’s, lol. Or it could have been guilt that he has caused Hillary grief hence the look.)
  • And maybe I shouldn’t have watched the Break-up Agency mini movie between Eric and Vivien because I was really anticipating the new collaboration between Eric and Shirley before that.

If this was a Taiwanese idol drama, they would’ve already made it work for Alex and Hillary with finding someone who understands you more and fighting to stay together. (LOL) Too bad. And the most twisted thing is Alex doesn’t like Hillary in that way but because Abbie keeps rubbing the matter in his face that he realizes of Hillary’s existence. (I mean he has always treated her as a friend and even if they have this strong bond, he still thinks of it as the two of them having this shared interest, etc. It doesn’t mean anything to him–until Abbie brought it to his attention.)

With all that said, I think that Vivien must have offended TVB majorly to deserve such types of roles on her all the time. The most likable one must be from Forensic Heroes and that doesn’t count for anything either. (Into Thin Air was another likable role for her but still minimal significance.)

So with all those rants, who did I hate the most in the whole series? Abbie and Hillary’s mother of course. They make it like she had no other choice but to run off and abandon her daughter. She escaped, why not take her daughter too? It wasn’t like she didn’t have any time. Yes, she was afraid that she might not be able to provide for Abbie, but was leaving her with such an abusive father a better alternative? Abbie was given false hope when she received such a great day planned by her mother, but then it all came down to nothing. (It was almost as if because the mother wanted to follow someone else but was afraid he wouldn’t accept it that she has a daughter already so just abandoned Abbie just like that. NO EXCUSE. She made a poor choice by choosing an abusive husband–and it was not like she was supposed to be perfect–but come on now, she just fled responsibility and left her daughter behind to face her consequences?) She just has the nerve to look so pitiful. Yes, she probably couldn’t think straight or right at that point when she decided to leave. But she understood more than anything that she couldn’t stay so what made her think that her daughter–a 5-year-old–could bare so much? Apologizing doesn’t help. No matter how she loves Hillary or seems to think of Hillary as Abbie at times, it doesn’t help. (The reason why I’m saying that she’s using Hillary as a substitute for Abbie at times is because of past recounts of how she remembered back to when Hillary was lost and how desperate she reacted during those times, etc seem to be so similar to Abbie–like losing a daughter. There’s also points where she remembered back to the day she took Abbie out to the park, etc. It’s obvious she cares for Abbie a lot, but the script is just stupid to make such weak points for her reason to leave but NOT to take Abbie with her. Either she cares for Abbie or not. She was probably confused at that time, but she still remembered to care and treat Abbie well, so how could she just turn around and leave just like that without Abbie by her side?) The most frustrating part is Alex’s mother wanting Abbie to forgive her just because she wants to keep her son by her side. Yes, it’s hard not to want such a thing with family reuniting, but she’s too harsh on Abbie and doesn’t understand that Abbie also left everything behind in the U.S. for Alex. So why can’t he do the same? It’s only fair for her. But Alex’s mother doesn’t understand what Abbie’s going through and just wants to get her way. It doesn’t matter how many times she’s saying that Abbie is cold-blooded, it still doesn’t change anything with how Abbie’s mother is such an irresponsible fake person. (Alex’s father is more reasonable and understanding since he knows how sad it is to lose her mother at such a young age. Maybe it’s ’cause he has experienced so much more and read so many books? I’m not trying to discriminate against the mother but that’s what it seems to imply here. It seems that only the father is the bigger person to let Alex go back to the U.S. with Abbie. Yes, he will probably miss his son too but it’s not like they’ll never come back. And like he said, they’re always family no matter what. The plan doesn’t go through but at least it’s good to know that he has his father’s full support.)

I sound really ironic for not liking Abbie yet defending her at various times with her mother’s situation. But in truth, I like her character and pity for her, but I don’t like the unconvincing elements paved into the plot by the scriptwriters in trying too hard to convince us of certain matters. It’s just too weak. This is the reason leading to not really liking her character much in the end. When a plot is so weak, everything will just crumble away.

If you want to watch this for a family drama or a comedy, it’s all right. But it’s really not made out as what it’s supposed to be. Yes, love the Fong family (as said before) and their bond but other side things just distract the purpose of the series. Pages of Treasures–doesn’t it relate to the whole theme of the importance of reading and enhancing your knowledge? They stray from the main theme so much that the whole message got lost.

If you’re honestly a fan of Wayne, Sonija, or Eric–or just watching to see the Fong family, just use the remote and fast-forward all the scenes of the triangle and that’s good enough. The last few episodes are sort of intense and funny in a sense about the psycho woman too, but it just goes right back to wanting to give Abbie credit again that it gets a tad lame (and overly dramatic). Yes, it made Alex’s mother realize that Abbie’s a great girl after all but it’s kind of weak and somewhat unrealistic to see Abbie forgiving her mother. Yes, she’s probably tired of fighting over that just ’cause of what happened in the past. But it seems too quick considering her strong reaction before. It’s also probably because she had encountered a near-death experience but still rushed.

I thought the triangle in Life Art with Kevin, Gigi, and Queenie was weak but looking back, this one is weaker and it dares to occupy the majority of the series. (I finally understand why the triangle in Life Art was so weak because it was more on how Gigi’s character came into acceptance with her disabilities and how Kevin’s character learned to appreciate the simplicity of life surrounding him. So it would make sense that it focused less on the triangle, but this one? No excuse since they put it WAY in the back of the series and try to show us that Alex and Abbie are meant to be together. It just doesn’t slide.)

With all those talks about various characters, almost forget about acting, so here goes:

  • Wayne Lai: No doubt he’s good and could pull off his role extremely well, making us believe that’s who he is. He doesn’t disappoint at all with his first leading role.
  • Sonija Kwok: She’s really improving nowadays and shows her emotions better and it’s not overdone at all.
  • Paul Chun: Was there ever doubt since he started acting like ages ago? Well, maybe some people probably would doubt him, but I think he’s one of the veteran actors who could still pull it through flawless nowadays.
  • Mary Hon: No doubt either ’cause of different types of roles from before. This is somewhat similar to some other roles but still love her.
  • Eric Suen: The reason I put him behind the others is that I’m a bit disappointed since he seems to do better in certain types of roles versus others. He’s the reason I fail to be convinced with the whole Alex and Abbie relationship. But it’s also partially due to the weak script. Again, it’s likely due to the fact that he’s more comfortable with Vivien because of their past collaboration. However, he should take it up to the challenge in interacting with various actresses. He has great chemistry with his past co-stars so I’m not sure why it doesn’t work this time around. (Stress? LOL!) I think I’m being too harsh on him ’cause the failed chemistry between Alex and Abbie. So to say something positive, I think his overall acting is good because during his interaction with the whole family is very natural and great.
  • Shirley Yeung: Slightly disappointed because I was actually impressed by her performance in several series. It’s like there are still traces of her character from The Brink of Law left over and she couldn’t pull out of it hence the fake acting sometimes (’cause the whole pitiful look reminds me of that character too much). She needs to sharpen up a bit. I do understand the pain that her character’s going through but her acting doesn’t convince as much, making it so weak at times.
  • Vivien Yeo: She’s getting there because she managed to portray different sides of her character and how complex it is.
  • Sharon Chan: I can see that she’s able to pull off various roles more comfortably nowadays and that’s a good thing to see with variety but hope to not see her in such a role too often. Yes, in the end, it actually shows that she values her friendship with Chung a lot since she actually tried to expose Chung’s brother before it’s too late. But it still lacks something to help her character build a stronger foundation toward the end. It’s like it’s rushed and tossed in at the last minute so they can wrap up the series nicely.
  • Jason Chan: The potential actor of the series. He’s actually quite charming and his acting isn’t bad. Hopefully, he doesn’t slip and gets careless later on ’cause I’m looking forward to some of his upcoming series.
  • Lily Ho: Mixed feelings but her acting’s a bit weaker comparing the same group of newcomers. She does better in some scenes versus the others. Still, there’s room for improvements so don’t want to be too harsh on her.
  • Fred Cheng: He is robbed once again. I thought he was rising after the whole Love Bond, The Charm Beneath, and all those series that he played a major role in. Why is he sinking again to play such a role? I know this makes him more versatile by playing all types of characters, but this is getting repetitive with making him bad or unimportant all the time recently. Still seeing potential in him with how he looks so convincing with turning a new leaf at the end again.
  • Stephen Huynh: Funny, but charming at the same time! Can’t complain about him since I’ve seen him in various roles already. However, hope he gets some other different roles before his acting slips ’cause of boredom.

This is almost a good series if it wasn’t for TVB trying to be creative again. So this has gone down to average or below average by the end of the series with unnecessary plot developments.

Posted (on Xanga): February 14, 2009

Re-posted: Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Au Revoir Shanghai

The series itself was surprisingly good. It started out a bit slow and I thought it was just those typical Shanghai triads and those gangs going against each other. But its many twists and complicated stories were entertaining enough. It sure showed a different side to the genre. I honestly think that TVB is better at those Shanghai series more than its modern series in recent years. Sure, there has been good scripts and all of the modern series but the ending will always kill it. But in the Shanghai series, so far–I found them all nicely scripted and the ending was well planned–like The Charm Beneath, The Price of Greed, and now this. I’m sure there are many others in recent years, but these three so far met up to quality.

Unexpected one but I somehow restored my faith for Michael Miu after watching this. He managed to carry out his character convincingly enough. I guess it was one of those old group vibes from the ’80s or whatever else that made it happen. There were others also. And his chemistry with Anne Heung was interesting also since I didn’t expect it to work out. Quite a bit tragic and all, but not overdone. I was glad also that he didn’t end up with Anne’s character. Although I love to see them together as a team, I don’t like it if it was too gift-wrapped or it would be beyond cheesy and unrealistic, considering what had happened. At least both parties had come to accept what happened and still maintain a pure friendship.

Anne Heung did pretty well unlike her other bland out roles as a sacrificing party or the kind and nice person. Although this was somewhat like her previous roles as well, she was weak on the outside but very strong on the inside. She really matched wit per wit with Michael’s character. Great performance from her here and the ability to bring out the role so well.

Bosco and Shirley were a cute and funny pair. Nice ending also since it wasn’t too cheesy. Not sure if this was before or after The Price of Greed but they were really funny together in here as well and did give off a different feeling aside from the bro/sis sibling feeling like the other one. Bosco’s acting was decent as always, bringing out enough of the character without making it corny like some actors nowadays. (One of the good choices that TVB decided to promote really, considering their NOT so wise choices.) Really like his voice also as he did the theme song for the series itself. Luckily, they didn’t try to impress Michael by letting him sing, lol. NOT like it’s a bad thing, but might be over-doing it. Shirley sure improved and unlike what some others think, I actually agreed that she got the Most Improved Actress award. She really came a long way since she first started out with confusing expressions and gestures. But she really nailed her character recently, bringing out the emotional state as well as many other complex aspects that her character went through. Looking forward to future roles of her.

Derek Kwok – This was one of the roles that I felt he wasn’t robbed, lol. Great performance like always and very natural. A great role for him also. Can’t say much about his character ’cause I’m just impressed and don’t want to be repetitive.

Jimmy Au – A little disappointed that his character shall die but somewhat reasonable to the plot itself. It’s one of the rare roles that I like him in. Although he starred in a few series in the good old days, he wasn’t that impressive. In this one, it is one of those series I can say that he’s good. He makes his character real and funny at the same time in the beginning and quite tragic near the end.

Eddy Ko – If they cast him in any more villain roles, I’m going to assume his features stay that way, lol. I can’t distinguish if he’s acting or it’s his real expression anymore, lol. But it’s all right. Got to give him props for looking sincere enough at the beginning to deceive people, etc (like how he did to Michael’s character) and his colors showing more and more near the end.

Power Chan – Umm….another role for him although it seems major, it’s like they have nothing else to give him so decides to throw this at him. Nothing impressive but he seems quite uncomfortable or was it his character? Can’t tell. Love his performance in Lethal Weapons of Love & Passion more.

Sonija Kwok – Ummm…having her guest star as Michael’s wife is a bit OUTRAGEOUS. I don’t mind it since probably she met him when she’s quite young and those relationships do happen but it’s so funny that Shirley’s portraying Sonija’s daughter. They’re more like sisters. But luckily that they didn’t have scenes together or I’ll fall off the chair already. But still interesting to see her pair off with Michael at the beginning.

Although I have a bit of doubt about cast at times, but the whole plot was pulled together quite well and captured my attention somehow and got stuck till the end. Great series overall about Shanghai conflicts and those days when the police departments can be quite corrupt. Somehow it reminds me of Catch Me Now–maybe ’cause I watched that before and know that Catch Me Now is after, but still with the whole cop and robbers being friends. Somehow, I really like the friendship between Michael and Derek in here. They both only know of their friends and groups at the beginning and they couldn’t really co-exist, but later learn much more behind it and the gray areas, considering all the corruption going on at that time. Luckily, Derek’s character managed to stay true throughout without giving in to those bribes stuffs and all. The Shanghai background–although not really showing much but different stores and the inside of houses at times, but still entertaining to watch a different side of it.

Posted (on Xanga): September 24, 2008

Re-posted: Saturday, March 6th, 2010