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).

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Under the Veil

I wanted to watch something of Wayne’s so that was the reason for tuning in to this one. Then I realized Wayne and Sonija were collaborating again so the better for me since I had liked them together after watching Pages of Treasure (and felt they were kind of robbed as a couple in there). I also didn’t have any problem with the rest of the cast so I dove in. As I was patiently waiting for the plot to unfold, I thought it was just another palace related show. However, I was wrong. Yes, the main story arch was regarding the palace and the uprising of some arrogant dude who thought he would be a better ruler. It always happened that way. What made it different was how it brought back feelings of old series. Mostly feelings of ancient series of the old days. It wasn’t being controversial on purpose or try to dramatize everything. The story just flowed along. I found it funny at first that they had several characters in here in various roles and even their characters looked alike. I soon got past that and realized it would be an interesting one. At least it was different. Then I got pulled in by the story. Sure, some were repetitive and reminded me of Liao Zhai related stories. Yet it was refreshing in a sense of the chemistry between various characters. I felt it strange at first that they let Kristal portray a guy. It was almost as if they were running out of cast or something. But then the character grew on me and so did Kristal’s portrayal. (If they did some Mulan adaptation, she would make a perfect Mulan. Not kidding.)

Anyway, aside from the main story arch, I felt the rest of the couples had a fair share of stories. Although Yat Pan Heung was shown as a greedy, flirty, and despicable character at first, the background story for her made sense. She was a prostitute, what was she expected to do? Then she was living in such a place, how could she not come up with different schemes to triumph over others? Who was she supposed to trust? It made sense. The previous happening with the switch and all was only to teach Chu Yi Dan a lesson. It didn’t allow for Yat Pan Heung to justify herself more than that. Because he wasn’t her fate so he only saw her as the fun person, not like his boring wife–as he mistakenly thought. Chu Yi Dan finally learned that his wife was very talented in her own way and very strong. There were many things she’d done for him but he didn’t realize its importance until she was no longer doing them. It made him realized his unreasonableness and knowing that the wife he wanted had been by his side all along. When Yat Pan Heung finally met Hon Tin Loi, the story unfolded and she found her own happiness and what could be considered a normal life. I actually liked those characters more, lol. Call me bias but scholar versus awesome martial arts dude. But both Wayne and Sonija did quite well in bringing out their different roles.

Then there was the story of the Song prince and Princess Lap Ka. Their story was cute at first and then moved toward the tragic route. However, their story was spread out throughout and not bunch together. It created a sense of mystery to it, making you wonder if there would be some sort of miracle in the end, which there was. But it didn’t make it too corny. The story actually made sense in the fairy-tale or folktale kind of way.

The story regarding the fish spirit and Cheung Chan was a mixture of cuteness and tragedy. Although it turned out favorable in the end. But that story brought forth both humor and mystery. The ideal, sweet girl wasn’t who she posed as out in public and a supposedly fish demon wasn’t so evil like often portrayed in others’ eyes. Eliza actually did quite well portraying both roles. She brought out the innocent, cute side of the fish spirit nicely. Then there was the cunning, scheming side of the royal miss, Hung Mao Dan. Her chemistry with Bosco was cute and likable in their own way.

Aside from all the couples in here, I felt some of the notable mentions went to Lee Kwok Lun, portraying two roles (like some others in here) of the turtle spirit and Justice Bao. He was humorous as the turtle spirit and somewhat grim as Justice Bao. Yet he was convincing in both roles. Koo Koon Chung was given a loyal, righteous role in here, which was hilarious. Well, okay, not like he’d never portrayed a good person type of role before, but I was more used to his cunning side or somewhat playful roles in the past. So having him in this role was a nice change. He was a great addition under the reins of Dyun Fung Sam. At the part where it was thought he had abandon Dyun as well, considering how he had a family and all, it was tragic but understandable. Yet he returned after having settled all his families at a safer place. It proved that he really meant what he said, i.e. caring for his family, and that he wasn’t afraid of death–like initially thought.

After all that was said and done, I think the most tragic couple must be Yuen Sam Yeung and Dyun So Sei. The ending for them was so sad. There was supposedly another chance for them at long last after all those years of waiting. However, in the end, they couldn’t be together. Both Raymond and Kristal acted out their scenes so well. Their chemistry wasn’t bad either.

There were many things about this series that made me wanted to defend TVB again, although I know they’re a lost cause for the most part. Most dramas nowadays are always leaning toward “love, love, love” and not so much for the theme of patriotism so I thought this series sort of brought that back into focus. Yes, there were various love stories in here–and it would probably contradict my previous statement somewhat, but I think that they made the right calls for the main story arch, i.e. the side stories weren’t that dragged out for the sake of it. It was more plot-driven than character-driven so it made the pace likable and enjoyable in many ways.

The ending? Although not completely satisfying and I’m sure there were flaws somewhere, but I felt it was nicely executed for the most part. A typical ending with a battle between good versus evil. Yet it united some of the key characters for the epic ending. It was nice seeing Raymond in another role, but this time as Prince Wanyan Siu. He joined forces with them to help find the special liquid and also defeated the ultimate bad guy in here. It was a nice battle scene. Not overdone. They actually worked together to defeat the bad guy AND NOT make it like someone hogged the entire scene for some outright exaggerated battle. It brought forward a sense of joint effort like how it was from the beginning, having different characters participate in the events, not one or two-persons all the time. One of the main reasons why I liked this series. And yes, it was indeed a major surprise that I’m praising it.