Line Walker: The Prelude

This, obviously, was a prequel to the previous installment, Line Walker. How was it? Mixed feelings actually because it was hard to get used to the additional cast somewhat. It was also because of some tangent plots that got me annoyed, which I will explain later. Other than that, it was decent, I guess.

Main Cast:

  • Michael Miu as Cheuk Hoi (卓凱). Continuing to show solid acting from the first season, he allowed us to travel into his past along with the other characters. We got to see how his past journey had shaped him to become so cautious and so protective of his undercover agents as he did in the present time. He showed great restraint in some situations versus others. Did he lose his patience? Yes, he did. Did he feel lost at times? Yes, that had happened. Yet thanks to some of his fellow colleagues and good friends, he managed to get past that and continue on with his mission. He also made mistakes, which led to a rift in relationships and trust issues–as it did with Tin Tong’s situation. However, he proceeded to try and fix it and proved himself again. Because he was able to relate to their own struggles as undercover agents.
  • Jessica Hsuan as Sze Ka Lei (施嘉莉) / Scarlett. I felt Jessica should have received better challenges in her old days with TVB than just portraying her typical characters. This was one of her more memorable performances. I watched the majority of Jessica’s series already but had given up over the past few years. I think the last time I was impressed with her was in Gun Metal Grey because she was so lively and natural without looking like she was uncomfortable–although some people disliked her in there. It was different. The talk she had with Cheuk Sir in episode 14 was important because it defined her character and humanized her more. Although some of the past scenes already highlighted her capabilities, those were professionally and related to the crime operating business. The part where she told Cheuk Sir about her past assignment showed a small window into her past, and what her journey was like before arriving at the current point. She already showed us the wise and level-headed side of her. Not to mention her well-planned schemes. We finally got to see her vulnerable side and learned more about her background. I liked her throughout because of her struggles at times and her determination–regardless of which side she was on. I thought she–out of all the characters–had the right to doubt the authorities in general and on such a grand scale. It was like many of the undercover agents who had doubted their superiors and the purpose of the whole operation, even harming those who tried to protect them. On the grand scale, they hurt more people because of their greed, but sometimes, there was always a question, just like how it was addressed in season 1 with some of the characters who had gotten too attached with some of the gang members. However, I found it disturbing to the max that she chose to return to Victor’s side near the end. Of course, they didn’t succeed with their schemes. Yet I was still disturbed. Because she turned into a typical character who would follow some guy who would do anything for her. Didn’t she see how scary he was? Sure, he did everything for her, but did she forget that he manipulated her to stay by his side? Like she was there with the chip planted in her and she wasn’t sure if she was going to survive. He let her live in that fear. Not to mention the downside of how if she were to oppose, she would face a consequence worse than death. So, yes, I was really disappointed in that change. It downplayed her character in the final moment that the show was going down. I didn’t expect her to end up with Cheur Sir since that was impossible and unrealistic. But I expected her ending was how she rode off into the horizon and gotten away with everything. In fact, it should end up with how she was finally able to be free of everything and headed toward her final destination to find peace at last. Cheuk Sir was willing to turn a blind eye to that part because he sympathized with her past. So, making her return to Victor’s side sort of set her character up for destruction. I understand that it was probably her blind spot, but it didn’t make sense or it just seemed like a typical way to wrap up the plot. What would have been an even more awesome move though? She could have returned in the third season to aid Cheuk Sir with some side mission or as a contact or an anonymous tip. She didn’t have to be a key character to hog the scene like some people, but that could have been an interesting turn.
  • Moses Chan as Ngai Tak Shun (魏德信) / Victor. Someone give him a comb, please. Mean, but seriously, I was getting annoyed by it. It wasn’t like it was messy but the style made it look that way. I think I wasn’t impressed with this role as I was supposed to be. The most impressive part or the one that I got the chills for was actually the part where he passive-aggressively tried to dethrone his father with that speech shortly before announcing his father’s retirement. It was really chilling. Even more chilling than when he took down the others. The legit fear his father had for him said it all too. The whole scene was memorable in that it let us know how creepy he was. Aside from that, he wasn’t the least bit impressive to me. So what if he was ruthless and acted like he owned Hong Kong? Chum Foon Hei was even scarier because he was good at playing long games. Look who turned up on top, right? Moses miscalculated IF he had ever thought of stealing the show by being in this installment. I don’t want to blame him because everyone has bills to pay and TVB’s decisions are always tricky. So I don’t know all those inside plans OR whatever. But he couldn’t really shine for me in here. It was interesting to see another character, but he wasn’t what made this series for me. 
  • Benz Hui as Chum Foon Hei (潭關喜). It was already revealed in the movie (which didn’t have much to do with the first season and wasn’t really worth it if you didn’t watch) that he was an undercover agent already. However, this one extended to his back story even more and how he ended up going rogue. I mean, can you even blame him? It was like survival of the fittest out there. His cowardly handler didn’t make it easier for him. Although the guy did redeem himself and aided his escape, the damage was already done. Not to mention he wanted to survive under Victor’s empire, he had to go to the extreme. His revenge schemes were hurting lots of others as well. However, I didn’t really blame him for what happened. Sure, he manipulated people and got what he wanted. It wasn’t news. Yet between him and Ngai, I was rooting for him all the way. It was obvious who won because this was a prequel and we already knew he even survived with the other one, so why not, right?
  • Pakho Chau as Lok Siu Fung (樂少鋒). I liked him from the start yet felt a bit shame that he was from the supposed “bad” side. But soon learned he was an undercover cop, so I was reassured. I liked the development for him with being around the gang and Pak-key for so long that he developed an attachment to them. However, the grand twist of his true identity made everything even more intriguing. Like it stopped becoming a typical formula of the show with how they were either undercover or cop turned bad. YET this one sort of pushed us into thinking other possibilities again. I suspected that the timeline didn’t fit and thought the scriptwriters made a mistake when it was described that he somewhat grew up in the gang and had followed Pak-key a long time already. However, it was explained later that his brother was the actual undercover agent. That made more sense. What made his character for me was his complex relationship with various characters in here–whether it was romance, friendships, or some sense of loyalty toward. He vowed to avenge his brother and Pak-key’s deaths. He was able to carry out both in some ways. Even if he’d gone to the max with his method but it was in some sense understandable. At first, he was also hostile toward Chum Foon Hei but later also became loyal to him–or somewhat developed a bond with him. It was really unimaginable after how he saw Chum fled and saved his own skin after Pak-key’d gone down. But over time, they reached an understanding with many complex actors coming into play. Not to mention the similarities between their characters. I think Chum mentioned it at one point as well–with them being undercover agents and then becoming rogue. However, the twist was Lok wasn’t an undercover agent at all. He was just posing as one and also wanted to avenge his brother’s death. They also managed to cheat death, so yeah.
  • Priscilla Wong as Cheng Shuk Mui (鄭淑梅). I initially didn’t like her because I thought she was so awkward around Michael’s character, thinking she was uncomfortable with interacting with him. As the series progressed and I understood her character more, I felt it wasn’t like that. I was glad I stuck around. Her suggestion with creating their own codes to Lok Siu Fong was really smart because she said even Scarlett knew their CIB codes. Not telling Cheuk Sir was a good idea too. She had alternative motives, but in a way, it did help in the future. Perhaps, it was like what Cheuk Sir said, the reason Lai Sir picked her was because of her innocent nature and her vulnerability. Her genuine nature had made her an asset to them, making it easier for her to gain trust from people. Not to mention her determination to continue on and beat all odds, not giving up when she ran into an obstacle, like how Cheuk Sir had pushed her limits at the beginning with those training sessions and small tasks.
  • Benjamin Yuen as Tsui Tin Tong (徐天堂). I liked him at first because I felt his character was intriguing. Then I felt he was a typical villain character. Like the cunning type YET he sort of grew on me and I tried to get past that since it was hard to hate him with all the comedic scenes that he had. Then the truth came out with him being another undercover agent and it made sense with how he tried so hard to act like some money-grubbing asshole throughout just to gain trust. Although his comedic acts were fun to watch, I thought his best scenes were with Lok and not Ah Mui. Because it showed his constant struggle of keeping a level head and also to focus on his goals. Despite knowing his actions weren’t going to be rewarded or anything. His friendship with Lok and the struggle with helping Lok or not made it even sadder. Because it was another decision that they had to face. He had his struggles with trusting others and somehow learned to do so with Lai Sir again. Yet was disappointed when confronted by Cheuk Sir and Ah Mui. After proving themselves to be the real deal, he learned to trust them once again.

Supporting Cast:

  • Vincent Lam as Chai Fing (猜 Fing). How could I have forgotten to talk about him in the first installment? He was a very interesting character from the start. I was glad to learn more about him in his installment and how he followed Chum Foon Hei since then. We all knew how he died tragically fighting off those rivals and allowing for the others to run in the first season so he won’t return in the third season–unless he had a twin, lol. His loyalty to Chum was shown throughout and he proved it time after time. No wonder Chum trusted him so much after all these years.
  • Nathan Ngai as Ben Sir (朱志彬). I initially really liked him. Maybe it was because of my biases toward him being Cheuk Sir’s apprentice. His intelligence and his righteousness was his shining point. However, those were also what fused his ambition and ego. Sure, having ambition wasn’t something to be ashamed of. Yet his perfectionism and his ego got in the way, which finally led to his downfall. It seemed like he couldn’t be manipulated to cave. However, the other gang proved their capabilities by being able to twist things and find people’s weaknesses to get their way. I felt disappointed in Ben though, because of how he wasn’t able to let go. He was one of those supposed heroes who was only good for being a shell because he liked to look good on paper but failed the test when it actually mattered. Good acting from Nathan though. Especially, during the scene where he came back and had the memorial ceremony for Cherry. YES, I thought the actor brought out his emotions well, however, I couldn’t sympathize with the character at all. He chose.
  • Louisa Mak as Yeung Wing (楊詠) / Cherry. She was actually my favorite character in here in regard to the female population. Yes, I hate to compare, but she was the favorite one among the female characters, so it was really tragic and sad to see her death. She seriously was very likable from the start. It was to the point that I feared she might be another agent from the other side. It was a surprise reveal that she was also one of Lai Sir’s undercover agents. She was very smart and cautious. Too bad she trusted the wrong person, which led to her inevitable demise.

Others:

  • Eddie Cheung as Lai Sir (黎瑞權). I was surprised to see him in here. However, I enjoyed his brief appearance. He delivered flawlessly and I got a little teary-eyed when he died. I swear, I knew it was coming. It was basically a copycat version of how Hong Sir died in the first season but because of his performance, I got sucked in. I know these events were years before, but since this was written after, I couldn’t help but think they just somehow changed some details and location and that was it. Regardless, we still got to see a very wise Lai Sir at times before he exited the show.
  • Jimmy Au as Hong To Hang (康道行). I was soooo sad to see him killed off so shortly in the first one, but that was part of the setup for the whole chase in the first season. So, of course, I was glad that he was in the prequel, trying to see him in action versus having characters talk about him at various points like in the other one. It wasn’t exaggerating to say that it was one of his better roles and worth mentioning roles of recent years as well. He appeared sometimes in here but wasn’t the main focus because of the way the story was crafted, which made sense. We could see the bond between him and Cheuk Sir as they met up at times to talk and gave one another advice. It was revealed that he was gathering up the team for their next assignment at the end of the series, which unleashed the chain of the events of the happenings in season 1. He wanted to consult Cheuk Sir about the members that he picked. However, Cheuk Sir didn’t look. He wanted to go out first. That topic was obviously delayed once again and obviously never addressed until Cheuk Sir finally had to seek out the actual team members as seen in season 1. Couldn’t blame Cheuk Sir too much–after all the stuff that went on during this installment. Cheuk Sir needed a break and some fun, and he also trusted Hong Sir to choose his own team members, so it was never talked about again.
  • Kenny Wong as Pak-key (鄭弼奇). For the first time ever, I actually liked his character and performance. I meant he’d been shoved into our faces for so long with various projects and the same cast that I got tired of watching him and eventually wanted to avoid everything he was in. I was actually kind of unsure about this one too, wondering if he was going to hog the camera thus ending up minimizing other characters. However, this character was really intriguing and a mix of depth within the character itself. It was like it wasn’t supposed to copy any past characters on purpose. His performance was actually quite more genuine than some past ones. I think TVB shoving him in series after series might have overworked him thus not solid performance at times. Yet I was actually sad when he wasn’t around anymore in this one. Strange, lol.
  • Alice Chan as Yao San San (姚姍姍). Chum Foon Hei’s wife. In the movie, she was portrayed by someone else and also was killed by someone else. However, once again, ignore the movie if you watched it. Because the movie followed its own timeline somewhat and made a big mess of the overall plot. So, for once, I forgive TVB for being inconsistent in that area. Anyway, she sure was an interesting character and fought bravely till the end. It was too bad her husband couldn’t tell her that he was actually a cop all along. Her death also fused his anger even more and caused him to go rogue with his revenge schemes. However little she appeared though, she had a great impact on the overall storyline, especially that of how Chum came to switching sides and eventually was just looking out for number one.
  • Tony Hung as Wong Wing Cheong (王永翔). An undercover agent and one of the team members who died after the mission in Thailand. He was very charming and likable. It was too bad that he didn’t get to stick around for the later scenes. It made sense with the plot and how Cheuk Sir was even more cautious of his decisions and actions later on, but that didn’t make it any less frustrating.
  • Stephanie Ho as Sparrows (雀雀). An undercover agent and one of the team members who died after the mission in Thailand. She was another interesting character that I would have loved to learn more about if the plot had allowed for that.
  • Koo Ming Wah as Tomato (蕃茄). An undercover agent and one of the team members who died after the mission in Thailand. It has been a while since I’ve seen him portraying somewhere near an interesting character. To bad.
  • Shiga Lin as Cheung Yuk Luen (張玉瑄) / Birdy. An undercover agent and one of the team members who died after the mission in Thailand. Yet another interesting character that could have been developed into much more. Once again, too bad.
  • Yeung Chiu Hoi as Tam Siu Lung (譚兆龍)/ Raptor. Assumed to be dead along with the rest of the undercover agents in Thailand. It was later revealed that he was the mole. He arranged the explosion and escaped. After he returned, he was chased down many times. Then he went and worked for Victor. Too bad he assumed that he would be spared by double-crossing Victor.
  • Karen Lee as Leung Si Man (梁斯敏). She was another undercover agent under Lai Sir before he passed away. She was so deep undercover that she gained trust from several parties within the triads/organizations. Also, she had terminal liver cancer. Um, recurring theme? The other one, Kobe died too. Tenfold more dramatic and tragic. But seriously? What gameplay were they doing? Seriously, she was a mixture of Kobe and Bao Seed because Bao Seed got so frustrated near the end that he didn’t care what extreme he went through to seek justice. He was frustrated that innocent people were dying and bad dudes kept living in such luxuries and getting away scot-free. So, yes, in a way, we could understand Si Man’s approach–even if we didn’t agree–because we were able to connect them to Bao Seed’s actions previously. Good performance from her though, because I’ve seen her in really sweet roles before and believed she couldn’t harm anyone, lol. This one, she exuded the creepy and mysterious aura quite well. It wasn’t until she finally revealed her identity to Cheuk Sir and explained the situation that we saw her vulnerability.
  • Gill Mohindepaul Singh as Yu Lok Sing (佘樂成). He was hilarious. He had some talents with the other two but were oddities among the cops hence being tossed out. He became a valuable connection while Cheuk Sir needed backup.
  • Kandy Wong as Law Siu Sze (羅小絲). She was equally hilarious as the other two recruits. She sure had some wit. It was funny to see her tossing it right back to the other two when they tried to pick on her height.
  • Penny Chan as Lee Man Hung (李文雄). The third of the recruits and was as valuable to Cheuk Sir when needed.
  • Kenneth Ma as Ngai Tak Lai (魏德禮) / Klein. I was rolling my eyes when he appeared. I meant I was sick and tired of the Ngai empire and their neverending dramas. Yet I changed my mind later when he appeared in the present time. So, I will stop here for now and save it for that review.

Relationships/ Friendships/ Romances, etc

  • Michael and Jessica. Like I said in the other review, I actually quite liked them in Gun Metal Grey yet just didn’t like the dragged-out story. So I was quite intrigued to watch how their story went in here. Obviously, we knew from the first season as a guide, they wouldn’t work out regardless and they weren’t the endgame. However, it was still one of the storylines I was looking forward to seeing their scenes more than some others in here. They were always friends more than anything else. As much as Cheuk Sir was able to share without compromising his identity and his fellow undercover agents, he gave her a lot of helpful advice yet didn’t force her to choose. His character seemed consistent for the most part with how he came to be in the other installment. I found it troubling at times that he wasn’t so to the book when dealing with her at various points and knew that it was his personal biases that had affected his decision as well. However, I treated it as that he sympathized with her and really wanted to give her a chance to run if she pulled out of the whole operation in time. However, she returned and deterred his goal in arresting Ngai, so she gave him no choice.
  • Moses and Jessica. I’m not even sure if they’d ever paired up before since I didn’t watch all of TVB’s recent series. However, I didn’t feel their chemistry like with their other pairings. Despite all the set up of touching moments for them during various scenes. I also tried to push aside their characters as being villains or in-between characters throughout but didn’t feel so strongly for them either. That was seriously bad, lol. Because their story worked out well for one another. They had the same mentality and seemed to operate on the same wavelength. They both had the intelligence and wit alongside one another. However, Moses and Jessica didn’t give me the couple vibe that I waited so long–even till the end of the series. Also, Jessica’s character was tenfold more interesting than Moses’s because she had many layers. Moses’ character had the same vibe throughout aka kill regardless of consequences and only the result mattered. It was homicidal and maniacal. Nothing special. Yes, that seemed harsh, but seriously, he was a disappointing villain because he fitted into a typical villain mold like some of the past dramas or stories had gone with when approaching the formula of how to present their villain to us. That was why I said in the section above that Moses wasn’t going to steal the show anytime soon. The spot still belonged to Benz’s Chum Foon Hei through and through. Like I said before, Chum was playing the long game. Ngai just wanted to defeat his opponents quickly and easily and through the cruelest methods. He wasn’t going to last if the story had stretched out even more. His underestimating of his enemies was also his downfall. So, aside from comparing Moses and Jessica’s characters and lack of chemistry, lol, I didn’t have much else to go on with them.
  • Michael and Benz. I actually wanted to put this in the other review but I decided to save it for this review instead. There were several overlaps here and there so yeah. I noticed their interactions and constant face-offs reminded me of their last memorable collaboration in The New Adventures of Chor Lau Heung 1984. In fact, each time they appeared together, everyone was seeing the actual scene playing out, but I was seeing another image alongside the actual scene during their Chor Lau Heung confrontations all over again, lol. Their interactions once again made it one of the highlights of the show as far as the Line Walker installments went. It was the side talks that made me felt somewhat amused. The best scenes in the series were actually their confrontation scenes and the chess games they played with one another. They both made very good points during their various face-offs throughout. I have to agree with Chum Foon Hei when he said prison can’t stop someone like Ngai Tak Shun. But Cheuk Sir wasn’t wrong either when he said so many innocent lives have been lost because of the war between both sides, and because Chum wanted his revenge.
  • Michael and Eddie. I don’t remember anymore when was their last collaboration in the old days. However, I really enjoyed their interactions in here immensely and felt that their talks at the beginning were probably one of the hallmarks of the show. Lai Sir was indeed very wise and had a strong impact on Cheuk Sir’s perspectives and principles also.
  • Michael and Jimmy. Also, one of the best interactions in here. Like said before, their scenes were a little more developed. We got to see their friendships and how genuine it was, just like how Cheuk Sir and Lai Sir were. Two completely different types of friendships but in some ways, they influenced one another from time to time.
  • Pakho and Priscilla. They were all right, I guess. I didn’t feel as strongly for them as some couples out there. But considering how they were in such a complicated situation, it was hard to put that aside. Their only date was possibly the time before he said goodbye. It was indeed a relationship meant to fail.
  • Benjamin and Priscilla. It was obvious that Tin Tong liked Ah Mui, but they were friends for the most part. There were many funny scenes between them at first. I actually enjoyed them since they were somewhat comedic within all the hectic stories developing at the same time. However, it was ruined by her mother’s storyline. The confrontation between them after Lok’s death reminded me of how Bao Seed and Ding Jie argued in the other one, asking why he wasn’t there to save the day. However, I didn’t feel as strongly about it versus the scene where Tin Tong and Cheuk Sir were on the roof talking about Lok’s death. It was very touching and expressed all their emotions well.
  • Pakho and Benjamin. I mentioned above how I felt stronger with their bond than them with Ah Mui and my opinion remained unchanged until the rest of the story unfolded. They didn’t have many things in common at first and even had quite a strong misunderstanding regarding Pak-key’s death. What they were able to bond over was their common mentality with being undercover agents. Even if Lok wasn’t really an undercover agent but he’d been in the gang for so long that he understood too well of its operations and the harsh reality of it all. That was also why the two came to make the pact.
  • Nathan and Louisa. Every series has a model couple. I think Cherry and Ben were it for this one. However, they were ruined because of what happened in the story. I was screaming mad when I realized he was turning bad. Yet it was turning into a whole new level of tragedy. Yeah, it fitted in with showing us how one caved to temptation or when faced with obstacles, how they would react. However, it still sucked. I thought they might be untouchable. But looking back at how the scriptwriters completely killed Kobe in the other one and let Yan suffered during the last few episodes, it was on par with it. This one wasn’t less frustrating, but it was actually making more sense because they were all trying to complete their missions? Kobe? How random was that? Killing him off with a disease so unrelated to the case as an overall? Sure, people die from diseases all the time. But it seemed off course and way off base for going that way while the series was reaching its peak in the other one. Anyway, back to this one. I think we were all heartbroken along with Cherry. I mean, it was frustrating and beyond cruel of that scumbag’s actions. (Yes, that’s what I’m calling him now.) However, I think she didn’t see it coming either. I think there was a teeny-tiny part of me that wanted him to reconsider or have some kind of wake-up moment where he realized he had to turn back for her sake. YET he chose himself. He chose self-preservation in the end. It was expected. But weren’t we like a little bit hopeful it was otherwise? At least we liked to lie to ourselves, thinking that love might save him? Well, it was love, but his love for himself over anything. But I think I could say I completely disagree that the scumbag was still a good cop. He totally looked out for his own ass. How could anyone say that? Unless you would have to say all cops are equally the same as in they always look out for their own ass, then yes, he was good at that.
  • Cheuk Sir’s Thailand undercover agents vs Lai Sir’s undercover agents. Once again, I apologize for pitting them against one another. However, I felt more intrigued with the Thailand team more. They gave us some hints here and there and had them introduced. We were already invested in their characters and wanted to know more. Yet bam! They were gone. Well, boom, actually. But still. The least interesting person had to survive. Sure, that was the point of the plot and it was revealed he was the traitor. But still. I liked the characters who became the main focus of the rest of the plot as well or came to like them. However, I felt less intrigued because of their similarities to the characters in season 1.

Dislikes:

  • Quotes. Were they necessary? It reminded me of When Heaven Burns so much and later of Master of Play. Having Moses in all three didn’t help the situation, lol. I learned some new and deep quotes through them. But I sometimes questioned it. Because it sort of veered off course from Season 1. I usually like deep stuff and discussions made but felt this one sort of didn’t fit in that aspect. Sure, they still talked about some of the themes addressed in the quotes in the previous season and this season as well. But I felt it was sort of off.
  • Forgiving family because they’re family aka blood-relations. Enough with the BS about forgiving your mother because she’s your mother. In fact, enough with the BS about just because they’re family, you can’t cut them off. I know Tin Tong meant well when he tried to cheer Ah Mui up at the karaoke place. YET I’m sick and tired of the message about family and forced getting along OR brushing everything under the rug in the name of family. Just because those people give life to you that you have to take all the crap? If you looked at it, Ah Mui didn’t have a choice to be born either, SO why brought upon her all those miseries? Pathetic to think everyone could get away with it in the name of family. Although it gave Ah Mui some background story, I’m sick and tired of family dramas regarding gambling and all. I know it happened and is still going on in society in general. But this is a cop drama and finding the mole, etc. Just focus on that. They have other series where they could focus on those. And saying that having parents is better than none doesn’t justify their actions. NO one asked for their tragedies in life. BUT you can’t push your views on others just because you wanted parents OR whatever.  And unconditional love works both ways too if anyone wants to advocate for it. Because Ah Mui was ONLY useful to her mom because she worked at a financial company. But she was dead weight when she wasn’t making any money. OR at least wasn’t well off. It’s beyond pathetic to play the pitiful card throughout and guilt trip others into thinking that as long as they’re fragile and weak, etc at that age because they’re NO longer able to being abusive that you’re supposed to cave in. How come parents never have to be responsible for their actions? Or like face consequences for their actions? Just because they play the parent card? The amount of money Ah Mui gave her was already enough for expenses YET she still dared to gamble? Greed knows no bounds. Even if they want to play the angle she had addiction issues, at least make it that she gets help OR whatever. Stop trying to make it into major guilt trips just because she’s playing the parent card. It’s frustrating to no end to drag out that plotline. So what it was because her husband died AND she was wallowing in gambling to forget? It’s a pathetic excuse. I have enough and mean MORE THAN enough of the endless excuses that abusive parents get away with. It’s pathetic to make Ah Mui the one feeling guilty. So she didn’t stay in contact. But what was one supposed to do when one felt so unloved and unwanted? To keep staying in an abusive relationship? Or keep in touch just because? Always the wrong message regardless of time or situation. The pathetic act isn’t convincing anyone except for those sooooo deep in the Stockholm syndrome that they couldn’t pull out. What was supposed to be paved as a touching scene or whatever was intended to be that was really pathetic and beyond outrage that I just want to forward it so I could watch more relevant details to the plot. Again, Tin Tong meant well because his mother passed away when he was young. However, it wasn’t his call to say whatever or tried to pull them together. Again, the scriptwriters forced it that way. But it was seriously pathetic and infuriating.

Discussions:

  • The gray areas of life. The struggles between carrying out your duty as a cop and betraying someone who had your back actually was addressed more strongly in this one. The struggle continued with wondering if what you were doing was right. In the first season, other themes were also addressed, but the majority of them agreed that the bad person must be brought in. In this one, the gray areas just seeped all over, not knowing what to do when you were too close to everything. Like how Scarlett had said about busting the druglord in Thailand. He told her to run because she was innocent, despite knowing the rest would be killed, etc. Or how Lok was so loyal to Pak-key. Technically, Lok wasn’t the undercover cop sent in, but he still witnessed those within the gang looking out for him, especially Pak-key. The gray areas brought forth, becoming a mess even if they knew what their duties were supposed to be. Chum Foon Hei was also a gray character because there were many reasons he was driven to the end. His handler was an asshole, except near the end of his life when he finally covered for Chum to run to his wife. So many things to consider.

Recommended? I thought this installment was all right. If comparing with the first season, I felt the first season was much, much stronger in the sense of characters, plots, and acting. However, it was inevitable with the precedent being set already. As a standalone series, I would say it’s worth it. Some of the new characters and stories weren’t that bad.

When Heaven Burns

I watched this one because my mom was looking for something serious to watch after all those sitcoms we were watching–among other comedies. First off, the title. I must admit that I was in objection to it when the title got changed from Heaven and Earth to When Heaven Burns but after having watched it, I could say that it suited the series quite well. Seriously, it was so intense and nerve-racking at various points so, in a way, it wasn’t too lame with changing the title. After all, the Chinese title was still Heaven and Earth, right? So how was it? Honestly, people who skipped it just missed a really good series. YES, that coming from me who has been ranting about recent series (and even got scolded for it on this blog). For once, I didn’t mind the repetitive team and/or group who contributed to this series. I meant not that I didn’t like the cast (okay, maybe for one or two persons), but I just got tired of seeing them together all the time. I was curious so I tuned in along with my mom anyway. Yet I found it more enjoyable than I expected. People who thought that this series was dragging shouldn’t even give it another go because you already set an opinion, so don’t let me convince you and later come back to scold me. Because seriously, if you think this was dragging, I’m not sure what ‘dragging’ means anyway. Sure, it was slow and passive at times, BUT it did not mean dragging. There were this underlying heaviness and intensity building up episode after episode until the breaking point that led to the mind buzzing mind games in the latter half of the series. Don’t believe me? It’s okay. You don’t have to. And perhaps I don’t like over-hyped stuff so I enjoyed this series even more. Though the cast seemed to be promoted heavily recently, the series did not aim to ‘shove it into your face’, or I didn’t get that feeling like they were trying to sell something. Maybe that was why it worked.

Moving on, like my usual reviews, I will place in the whole ‘cast/characters’ discussions–among other things. But will also include the ‘theme’ part this time around as well since I feel it’s essential and actually feel like discussing it more specifically for this series. However, I won’t include ‘couples/pairings’ this time around because I feel that wasn’t the point of the drama. YES, there was love spread into the drama at times, making things even more complicated with relationships. But that was just part of the small piece and I don’t want to get distracted with it for this one series.

Main Cast/Characters:

  • Charmaine Sheh as Hazel Yip Chi Yan (葉梓恩). A character worth watching after so many of her recent ‘goody two shoes’ ones. I mean I like to see her in those ‘nice and kind’ ones too. YET I felt she was getting rusty or would get there soon if she doesn’t take on any challenging role soon. Sure, the majority of the characters in here had to be quite serious as well. But I felt this one was a role that she won me over again with her portrayal. It wasn’t too much or too little. It was just right with her passiveness at times or her cold composure. She managed to capture those moments when Yan was hurting so much that she didn’t know where to turn to (aka all lost and confused). Then there was the whole not caring for the world attitude. There were so many complications in her life that she couldn’t handle, even turning to different means as an outlet–like senseless one-night stands or alcohol. I was really disturbed at first with how her character appeared to be cheating and all but somehow sympathized with her later with how her family was so broken and her being stuck in the past for so long that she was hurting herself and others around her. The worst part was not being able to pull out until later. But what I really liked about her character throughout was her stubbornness. Once she made a decision, she didn’t waver anymore. There was another thing that they (the scriptwriters) added to her character that I quite like, which was the whole deep thoughts and stories in her radio segments. I liked those narrations and it sort of set the tone for what was going on around them and how the guys–or other characters–would think it over as they listened to her segment. It was somewhat a narration or reflective moment at times when the scenes were happening around them but there were only her words to convey the message of those scenes–and the impact of what just happened.
    • Angel Chiang as the young Yan. Though she didn’t resemble Charmaine to be a younger version of Yan, she had the spunk and grace for the character. I really enjoyed her chemistry with the rest of the guys throughout as a band. Her bravery to fight against the guys at times was quite admirable as well. Maybe that was just her rebellious nature.
  • Moses Chan as Angus Sung Yee Long (宋以朗). After all those so-called ‘comedies’, he finally returned to the more serious roles as well. Mixed feelings at times actually. Maybe it was his intimidating image that had made the others believe he might have been the cause of their role in the Ka Ming conspiracy, BUT it wasn’t so. Perhaps Joe was right with his whole ‘drummer versus guitarist/lead singer’ theory/concept because that was what made Angus more suspicious of the three of them. What was admirable of him–even IF that seemed like an excuse to like his character–was whoever he hurt, he didn’t hurt the people within his group of friends (aka among the four of them, i.e. Joe, Ronnie, and Yan). It was like he was compensating for what he’d done in the past hence leading a distorted life yet didn’t want to hurt the other three more than he already did. (Possibly that was the difference between him and Joe.) What made me not able to forgive him, in the end, was sacrificing Jessica in order to get back at Ben (and eventually Joe). Did he have to do that? He probably thought so but that little act condemned him even more with his already life sentence (even if it wasn’t served in prison). SO Jessica had agreed to help him after confronting him BUT he should have considered it more, considering how Jessica had been so loyal to him throughout. (Or was he too blind with hatred and/or wanting to take revenge that he didn’t care? Not to mention how he was so close to winning.)
    • Yeung Chiu Hoi as the young Angus. Consistent enough. He looked less intimidating than his current self, of course, but for obvious reasons. However, there were always traces of the lack of confidence in him and the reluctance that was still present.
  • Bowie Lam as Joe Lau Chun Hung (劉俊雄). Was I the only one who got fooled by his character? Okay, so I was trying to put my biases past Bowie since I found his expressions were always so intimidating regardless of the roles he portrayed and thought I was being mean for picking on him. So I tried to focus on his character instead and what was going on around his character. YET I was wrong to think he was some poor guy who was trying to repent–with his wife not understanding him and even cheated on him. Sadly no. He was the most dangerous one out of the three. He was so charming in character and so manipulative in his words that made everyone feel they were in the wrong more than him. Often taking the blame and sounding like he was protecting the others yet he was just protecting himself by letting others think he was the victim. The part where he was telling Angus the reason why he picked up playing the drum really summed up his character. He told Angus that he used to think it was so cool being a guitarist and singing at the same time, having all the attention. However, he later realized that the drummer actually held the key to it all because the band had to follow the drummer’s rhythm or they would be all off (aka the drummer controlled all by forcing everyone to play fast or slow). Seriously, it really boiled down to him being able to control everything in front of him with his careful planning and patience throughout–and most of all his persuasive abilities.
    • Ronald Law as the young Joe. He managed to look as intimidating? LOL! I had no idea but I guess he was convincing as the younger version of Joe since there were signs present that showed how the current Joe hadn’t changed–with some flashbacks here and there.
    • Signs that Joe wasn’t all bad. AND NO, I’m not talking about the whole ‘facade’ he put up at times to deceive them–regardless of when he was younger or at times when he was older. I’m talking about when it was finally revealed that he was actually the most manipulative among the three guys. There were parts like him lying or trying to get through some sticky situations yet during his time alone, he would reconsider. Another time and more obvious was after Cloris’ death and him crying out in his office finally–while he was deleting her text messages to him.
  • Kenny Wong as Ronnie Cheng Chun Hin (鄭振軒). He started out as losing his memory and then recovering it slowly. We all hate the ‘memory loss’ card, right? But it made sense this time since he and the other two went through a near-death experience after all. Not to mention how he was traumatized along with the others during the whole incident. He struck first and planted the seed of evil. (YES, he was the one who stabbed Ka Ming first when Ka Ming was lying inside the tent resting.) But repented greatly later, wanting to pay for his sin. But wasn’t given the chance in that way. Instead, he paid for it with his eyes, and some more.
    • Kelvin Leung as the young Ronnie. Another good choice because he merged in quite well with Kenny’s portrayal because Ronnie seemed to me as always the passive one OR possibly the invisible one out of the three guys (aside from Ka Ming).

The reason why I only listed 4 as the main cast AND not like the other lists had indicated was because I felt the story revolved around those characters for the majority of the time and it took them to resolve all the conflicts as well.

Supporting Cast/Characters:

  • Ben Wong as Bowman. The reason why I put him first was sort of by order of appearance and somewhat because I’m biased (LOL). Anyway, he was actually somewhat my favorite character throughout despite his limited screen time. (Though acceptable since I felt he contributed to the story by tying in different characters and moving the story forward but didn’t need to be ‘in your face’ to get the point across.) I felt so bad for him at the beginning since he was just part of the whole charade that Yan was putting up for herself, wanting to find replacements for her past (and more specifically for Ka Ming). But then I had somewhat forgiven Yan for deceiving him. Though that didn’t mean I like him less because I found him very genuine, not tainted by all the things around them. Ben had made that happen with his portrayal–regardless of the amount of screen time he had. In a way, I was glad he got a new start later–after Yan finally sorted out her mind (for good). (Side-note: My mom actually wanted to see Ben portray Kenny’s character instead YET I had convinced her it wasn’t a good idea because that would mean he was part of the ‘cannibalism’ conspiracy. LOL! NOT that anyone was being sacrificed in the events of shooting the drama but those types of characters were disturbing still, LOL!)
  • Maggie Siu as Emma. One of Maggie’s couldn’t care less roles? I don’t know. It seemed like it didn’t fit her. I had a hard time imagining Emma so dumb, mostly due to Maggie. NOT that I doubt her acting in the past, but this time it seemed weird. I don’t know what happened. But it was like she was uncomfortable with the role? I enjoyed her chemistry with Moses when they were shown as a somewhat cute couple at first. Yet it all crumbled in the later events (mostly due to the story), but I also had a hard time with her character being that naive. But I guess her character wasn’t too unbelievable since she was so sheltered by her sister and how she sort of depended heavily on her sister to look after the family business so she didn’t have to worry about other stuff.
  • Astrid Chan as Gina. I had mixed feelings for her throughout the series but I let go of certain judgments later on because I felt she was another victim in this whole web of lies and other deception games. So she chose to stick around and continue with her role but I felt she was so given a bad image or seemed to reflect so in front of the others at the beginning because her husband was so good at acting that she had been pushed to become the ‘bad person’. Astrid didn’t fail to deliver her emotions throughout, projecting her image–or what we were led into believing–and the actual tormenting turmoils she went through later on.
    • Joey Mak as the young Gina. Good casting actually since she somewhat resembled Astrid. OR did they do the make up that way and somewhat of the hairstyle too? Not sure but she did manage to show consistency in the character.
  • Felix Lok as Dr. Ivan Wong. At first, I found him too despicable because of the affair he was involved in. But I sort of pity him later. Just slightly. Or perhaps I wasn’t so judging of him anymore. A minimal role for Felix but he played a key role in the end. Somewhat, but it wasn’t like he needed to prove himself.
  • Angela Tong as Shirley. Ronnie’s wife. I was arguing with my mom about whether her character accepted Ronnie regardless if her husband had once eaten someone OR if she was too traumatized and didn’t want to believe. YET I had to wonder in the later parts of the plot after things cooled down. YES, she relied on her husband the majority of the time. But let that slide as well? Do people just accept things just like that? (I meant cannibalism isn’t like shoplifting. Sure, both could be repeated BUT shop-lifting dealt with the store’s possession versus a human being.) Regardless of the ambiguity of her character, I thought Angela did quite well with conveying all the torn feelings she’d gone through. AND no, I’m not saying it’s unrealistic with her character, just felt that it was worth some thinking with her point of view–and how it was a different sort of reaction from the other female population in here. AND yet it made one really think about human nature–and whether one chooses to accept or to dodge.
  • Queenie Chu as Jessica. I think she was the most pitiful in here. Some could argue that she got what she deserved because she aided Angus in deceiving Emma–and possibly others. YET I felt she had always been loyal to Angus and only loved him hence it was too cruel to see her being sacrificed as his final pawn. The scene with her and Angus at the music store was quite touching. She didn’t ask for anything extraordinary–and had never asked for more, except for him to play a song for her one last time. Indeed, she was right that Angus was the most truthful or real when he was playing his music. The other thing about her that made it even sadder was how she was a replacement for Yan at first (could be seen through various points of when Angus was playing the guitar at the shop and saw Yan sitting there instead of the actual Jessica) and gradually earning a place in Angus’ heart with how he finally took the hint to be more attentive to her (mostly through Ben’s urging BUT Angus began to open his eyes to see Jessica for herself, not as a Yan who he could never be with), like how he was giving her the birthday gift (aka his necklace) to symbolize her importance in his heart. Yet it was just too late for them when he pulled the final card (i.e. sacrificing her as well) and perhaps that little scene with him playing the guitar for Emma (and actually picturing both Yan and Jessica) made it somewhat forgivable for him? NOT like completely forgivable but like how she finally earned a spot in his heart. Anyway, another different role for Queenie and I think she nailed it.
  • Cheung Kwok Keung as Ben. He got robbed. NOT the character, but CKK. Personal opinions here since seeing him in these types of roles just make me want to cry because I imagine him all so powerful in some of his previous roles. (One of the most memorable was in No. 8 Bus.) Anyway, he didn’t fail to deliver by convincing us he was this despicable character who betrayed his boss again and again. Yet I felt it was kind of lame that they had him playing the harmonica and trying to seek sympathy from Jessica in the end. I swear it was a bit over-killed with linking everyone to music–one way or another, but I will let it slide. (Like I could do anything anyway.)
  • Lau Dan as Uncle Chuen. Had some major scenes at the beginning but still didn’t lack in importance later on. It was his mission to help Joe repent from his past wrongdoings, and he made it his responsibility to bring Joe back to the correct path near the end as well. Yet it was too late. Or was it? AND do I need to say anything else about his acting? Convincing as always.
  • Cindy Lee as Cloris. Also a pawn in here and this had to do with Joe. Yet I can’t feel any pity for her though I was shocked by her death. I meant, okay her final moments were really worrisome and tragic, and I know I’m heartless to not pity her. But she had it coming. She criticized and chastised Gina at the beginning for cheating on Joe YET she ended up helping Joe cheat on Gina? Love’s blind YET she had it coming. The reason I was shocked, of course, was I didn’t expect her to die. I would expect the usual seeking out Gina later to confront Gina or would just go crazy, not death. Though her ending indeed made an impact on Joe when he broke down while deleting her messages. (As mentioned earlier.)
  • Elaine Jin as Brenda. She was an interesting character at first because of her mysterious nature possibly being the only one to overthrow Angus. YET I lost interest in her character after she fell into Joe’s trap as well. WHAT? I don’t care if they were having an affair either since I was used to Joe’s manipulation already. But what I was disappointed at was seeing how she fall into his trap so easily. Or was she just letting go and using him to enjoy her remaining days? Another way to look at it though was emphasizing Joe’s ability to manipulate–even the most cunning person in here (at least from the female side).
  • Chan Hung Lit as George. His second last role and he got this? How memorable. NOT. But anyway, to be honest, he did quite well (OF COURSE) and I think it got cut off because of the inevitable? NOT SURE. But it wasn’t too lame in covering the tracks because he might as well just disappear though he was sent on a mission to uncover Angus’ secrets elsewhere. (Though I shouldn’t even blame anyone or be mean about it since no one knew this one was his second-last role, right?)
  • Tsui Wing as Arthur. I really, really hated him at first (equally as Yan so don’t worry about me picking on just the guy) but later, I was like whatever. And TW showed us another side of him in here with this role.
  • Andy Dai as Sam. The minute I heard ‘Sam’, it reminded me of his role in this old series called Exchanging Couples (OR something like that), because he was also named Sam in there (and the fact that his wife/later ex-wife in there worked at a radio station as well made it even more familiar). He was quite funny in here. So he was trying to be serious and at times appearing quite arrogant–as most bosses were allowed to. But it made it even funnier that he thought they were supposed to worship him yet they were just conning him at times.
  • Joe Junior as Dr. Dylan. The person driving the whole ‘rock and roll’ theme forward in here. Though the rest of them were there with their goth look and all, I thought it wouldn’t be the same without his recounts of past events and his passionate talks about ‘rock and roll’ from time to time. They definitely needed a respected elder to point them in the right direction or tell them to go with the music, etc. His talk about life wasn’t cheesy either but it made sense, incorporated into the overall theme itself.
  • Rachel Kan as Daisy. Sort of a double-faced person, but I don’t blame her since she was quite witty with her comments (even if it was mostly through sarcasm). And the other reason for being bitter was having to cover for Emma just because Sam wanted to score points with Emma.
  • Catherine Chau as Mabel. Almost didn’t recognize her. Maybe it was because of the image. It was all right I guess, fitting in with her character and making her sort of wild along with the other two. It was kind of random that she got together with Arthur at one point (since Arthur claimed to really love Yan, so much for it).
  • Stanley Cheung as Hui Ka Ming (許家明). The unfortunate guy that got eaten by Angus, Joe, and Ronnie. I put him last on purpose (AND YES to make a point). Was this what they called the weakest link? He was really kind-hearted and down to earth from those flashbacks.

Themes:

  • Cannibalism. YES, I placed this first because that was the ‘advertised’ theme at the beginning–even before the actual filming took place. It was just a small part of the story but had a really big impact. Because they only showed a bit of it at the beginning and a more graphic (IF could be called ‘graphic’ at all) scene later on when the truth finally unfolded. But they didn’t dwell on it. They moved on to the ‘forgiving’ part and the whole ‘repenting’ part. Or what could be called an attempt to heal–if at all.
  • Friendship. It was all over the place in here. Yet it was real. Besides, what’s the right way to be friends anyway, right? What I mean is those random times between Hazel and her co-workers versus what she would do with the other three guys.
  • Black/White. The morality in here was also quite scattered but understandable. Yet it had made its point that life was more about the grayness of it all more than establishing boundaries. Sure, people could put up boundaries all they want YET the outcome when those things happened was different. In short, you don’t know what you would do until the actual moment. ‘What ifs’ could not measure the real impact anyway.
  • Rock and Roll. The reason for the whole goth look throughout the series with the majority. And at first, I felt it would be too wannabe with seeing them trying to fit in and act like they were caring about ‘rock and roll’. BUT it wasn’t so. I was so glad that they made it so natural with different characters talking about ‘rock and roll’ but tied it in with the whole story. They weren’t trying too hard either (for once).

Favorites:

Basically, I like the whole series–regardless of how random it got at times but it made sense and let us explore the characters even more. But there are other things I want to focus on as well.

  • Dark. I guess what made the whole thing worked was its goth nature and how it didn’t manage to crank the hype up by throwing in some other things. It appeared boring (to some people) and passive, but it was like they were waiting for that dark curtain to lift and free them all. The darkness of it all (NOT literally but could be) allowed for a wider range of exploration–whether through the mind or other types of interactions.
  • Consistent. I’m talking about both the consistency in personalities for the characters who had a younger version of themselves in here, and of the storyline itself as an overall. It was a bonus of a so-called ‘slow’ series because it covered most of the tracks with its flow. It was never too fast or too slow but drove the point loud and clear in the end.
  • Filming Technique. I was surprised and somewhat blew away by how it was filmed with merging the two worlds into the story–back and forth–throughout the whole story. I will admit that it was a bit confusing at first but I got used to it later and really liked how they used the past as bits and pieces of the puzzles–until they reached the end. Awesome indeed.
  • Karma’s Kick. Chills literally ran down my back when the mother of that kid call out his name, telling him to apologize to Gina in the hospital. I must admit I was soooo scared that the ending would be corny and cheesy with everyone getting together singing a ‘Barney song’. (SORRY, inside joke if you know what I mean.) But it wasn’t so. NOT that I’m the type that wants to see deaths left and right. In fact, I’m more peace-loving than I let on at times. But what I felt throughout the series was the intensity that reeked so strongly as each episode went by, so how could they mend things just like that? Yet when Joe died, I only felt okay so one of the bad guys died, and indeed it was because of his own doing. Not to mention it was too late to return. But it wasn’t so. It was until the kid’s mother called his name (also Ka Ming like their friend Ka Ming), it totally went over my head and really made it more complicated in a way. In fact, it was really the writer’s intention because Gina had literally stopped in shock and finally realized it was really karma getting her husband, NOT just because he died saving a kid. YES, there was something inside him (something still good in there though he had claimed it was too late) that insisted that he wasn’t all bad. He even made an effort to buy his wife a gift for their upcoming anniversary, and then the obvious with him wanting to save the kid the instant he saw the kid wandering out in the street. But it was like the time to pay his debt had arrived. What about the other guys? Ronnie lost his vision and had to face the authorities regarding the case involving Joe. The final question that the investigating detective had asked Angus upon his departure was if Angus had felt lucky that he had gotten away for what all three of them had done. But Angus had replied, “How would you know I’m not facing my own punishment?” Indeed, Angus’ punishment was never seeing Yan again because she had claimed that she would leave and would never come back. That was on the surface though because I seriously think that Angus had already paid somewhat for his betrayal to Ka Ming. Why? Yan had stabbed him that one time at the apartment where they used to gather and practice their music after learning the truth version as to what really happened to Ka Ming–and Yan. Then she came back–as if having forgiven him already. (Yeah, call me superstitious but I sort of want to elaborate on that little possibility as some of the details were relevant to the story.) That was why Angus received the lightest punishment physically. (And personally, I think the reason why Angus got the lightest punishment was because he never intended or really agreed to their actions at first with Joe trying to convince him, pulling him out of the tent to talk about it since Joe was saying Ka Ming would die anyway. Then before they knew it, Ronnie had already stabbed Ka Ming–and they just went ahead with the plan. Perhaps Angus’ reluctance at first and his deep regret later made it more pitiful? Sure, he participated in different schemes later on and wasn’t so ‘good’ anyway, but before Ronnie recovered his memory, between the two of them, Angus had shown more regrets among them all, knowing he was already marked to pay a debt.) Emotionally, all three would always be scarred by what they did–regardless. Though I think Joe had finally got his release from it all because usually, the ones staying behind are the ones who have to face the cruel truth–no matter how they try to repent themselves.
  • Full circle. I almost forgot about this but it was the scene where Yan saw a group of five going into the apartment building where they once practiced at and found Angus renting the apartment out to the five teenagers. Life was full of both the expected and unexpected. Yet it seemed familiar with how they once started out.
  • Alternate Ending. Most of us probably hate alternate endings, but I thought this one was well planned and well-executed. Maybe because of the ‘what if’ concept and not the actual thing with TVB playing us, saying it didn’t happen, they were doing the ‘what if’ at the beginning. (LOL, that would suck big time because they did put us through so much since the beginning.) And the most unexpected thing (but made sense) was it was Yan who held the key to it all if their lives had been different. Why? It was revealed when Yan was walking to the bus stop at the end that “if she had turned around, Ka Ming wouldn’t leave with the guys to the mountains” thus their lives leading toward normality–with everyone not suffering from endless guilt ’til the end. Then there was also the possibilities of the other people’s lives like how Emma would’ve gotten married to that one lawyer guy, Angus might have started something with Jessica, etc. And one day, just like the scene showed with them reunite to sing and enjoy their music once in a while. But to get back to Yan and her decision, maybe that was why she tortured herself, indulging in guilt all these years? She was blaming herself more than anyone because if she had turned around, then Ka Ming wouldn’t leave. But it was too much to take so she had chosen to blame it on the others and severed her ties from them rather than confronting her own demons. SURE, the others were at fault for making that decision, but it was from her own take that she could’ve made a difference if she didn’t leave. Interesting take indeed.
  • The sub-theme song. At first, I was like ‘whatever’ since I didn’t like the three guys’ singing too much. How wrong I was. Because I actually liked it a lot more when the last two episodes came around. Because at that point, it made sense. Though some earlier episodes showed them composing it together that one night. But I still thought it would be one of those moments and then they were back to scheming again. That was it. Yet the song finally came into importance when they finally reunited on stage and performed together with their counterparts. (And just for clarification, for the relevancy of the story, the characters wrote it BUT in real life, some of the talented musicians/lyricists had made it happen. Go here for the translations from llwy12.) Oh yeah, for some weird reason, when they sang onstage like that, it seemed to be the live version? (Like it wasn’t obvious with the stage setup but at times nowadays, we wouldn’t know if they just sync in the studio version.) Or was it? I wasn’t sure but it sounded different from how it was in the sub-theme.

On a concluding note, I must give this series a ‘one of the best of 2011’ label. This actually deserved to be on a mantel for once. This really put the ‘quality’ part back into some of the recent TVB productions. YET if people are just looking for some ‘excitement’, better skip it. Because this wasn’t another ‘hype-up’ series trying to draw in viewers just for the sake of it. But about a journey all of us must go through in life, accepting things, reflecting on things, forgiving or not forgiving, etc. In short, it was the explorations of the mind and heart.

Be Home For Dinner

One of the worst sitcoms ever made. Or should I say it is the worst? I had high hopes for this one, partially because I thought the cast would be smarter than to involve themselves in this. But why should I expect more when creativity just couldn’t win in this time and day–and not to mention at TVB. Then the whole thing with everyone making a living and needed the money so they wouldn’t be fussy about it, right? Though I had lowered my standard of the overall the sitcom since it would be long anyway. Something would get lost–one way or another. Yet I couldn’t forgive the creators of this sitcom for putting in so much lame morality. I’ll elaborate later. But what I would like to point the finger toward right now is the story–at least the general story–was so creepily like When Dolphin Met Cat. Though I started watching When Dolphin Met Cat somewhere along the way of waiting for more episodes of this sitcom YET I could see already the creepy likeness of it. I had finished When Dolphin Met Cat like way before I finished this because let’s see 14 episodes (about an hour each episode) was much faster and easier to take than 100 and something. For one thing, When Dolphin Met Cat was made more than six years ago so that ruled out the whole finger-pointing at the drama for copying. I’m NOT implying that this one’s copying since I have no proofs. Yet it’s just so creepy that there were so many details alike. After finishing the other one, I decided to wait on the review so I could add more similarities before posting it. But I will post the other review in the future with a section of similarities for everyone to read also. However, I must say that When Dolphin Met Cat had a better ending though it had many frustrating plot elements as well. Why? It didn’t force the whole ‘family getting along’ like this one tried to so hard.

The Main Cast (sorry, going to use Mandarin pinyin though it’s a Canto production):

  • Elliot Yue as Zhong Guo Zhu (鍾國柱). His intro scene was very cool with how he was setting up the trap with sending in Tian Kai and Ou Gao Rong to test the food at the restaurant before actually emerging himself, exposing the others in the end. Then there was some foundation–though he wasn’t perfect. It was all right with me that he was a bit paranoid and crazy like the rest of his family. He had some sense of arrogance, which was expected of such a famous editor like him having a reputation, or as they called it ‘having an important footprint in jianghu’. (Can’t translate it accurately but basically it represents his importance.) But all that was lost until near the end when Jessie reemerged, making his character dumb as well for falling for such tricks.
  • Helen Ma as Dou Gui Sen (竇桂森). A kind and innocent elder of the Zhong family. She sure qualified for the naive character in here. I think of all the characters in here, I would understand if she falls for Jessie’s tricks BUT the others? Unacceptable. Perhaps because she has this kind nature that was hard to hate.
  • Stephen Au as Zhong Guo Dong (鍾國棟). Mixed feelings. I really liked his character at first until how he kept pushing Bei Er into mending things with her mother and sister. Then how he handled the whole Jessie thing. SO he wasn’t bright in that area YET the others made him dumber AND then when he found out, he still went through with it? Overall, not bad YET the plot ruined his character.
  • Kristal Tin as Carmen Cen Bei Er (岑貝兒). I always thought she was quite bright and reasonable. Not to mention graceful as well. Yet all that was lost near the end. What a shame. I felt really bad for her with being cornered by others and how they were putting the blame on her, making her cave in. YET I sometimes felt it was deserved, especially near the end when she didn’t fight back hard enough.
  • Yvonne Lam as Mary Suen/Sun (孫瑪利). The best character in here. I swear. It has been a long time since Yvonne Lam was given a great role. I liked it that she had been given a variety of roles over the years YET I wonder when she would receive a role worth mentioning again. Her performance had always been wonderful but this one was one of those roles that really made her shine above all characters. I really loved her witty humor and blunt personality. She was not fake at all. The fact that she was making snark remarks regarding Jessie’s wedding was funny and made her the smartest in here. I loved how she didn’t just force herself to go along with the others during that time. Sure, she would support her family when the situation presented itself. Yet that wedding was too much of a joke for her hence her making a joke out of it (which was what it was really). Can’t say enough about her character. Absolutely lovable.
  • Law Lok Lam as Mr. Ko/Kao. Awhile now that I saw him in a role worth mentioning because at times he would appear but just briefly or so. NOT sure if it was because I couldn’t catch the right one where he appeared more than a few episodes. Yet I remember the last one worth mentioning was for The Brink of Law and interestingly, he portrayed Elliot Yue’s brother (who was later killed by Elliot Yue). Great performance as always, so funny with the comedy yet his serious moments were worth mentioning as well.
  • Jason Chan as Sam Zhong Si Han (鍾思翰). Somewhat spoiled at times. Yet he had a good heart overall. He was quite determined and somewhat stubborn like his father. Acting? Can’t say much at this point except he was great eye candy. But then again, it was not like he exaggerated to the point of intolerable since his emotions were seen through his eyes. He needs to take on more challenging role (well, if he’s allowed) to see what else he could do with. Hopefully, we would get to see it.
  • Lily Ho as Qi Qi (琪琪). It was a bit odd to have her introduced so far into the story yet I guess that left something new for the audience to discover. Not too bad with her being so graceful and knowledgeable about various things. I thought Lily had improved with some of her past performances, especially how she had to carry such a role. Not the best but was still convincing enough.
  • Matt Yeung as Tian Kai (田凱). Matt finally made his way up again. Because I could remember the days when he was in The W Files playing a major role. I haven’t really watched him in recent years OR watched enough TVB series to know. Yet this could be an important role again. I had mixed feelings toward him one time or another. Mostly because of the plot that impacted the character. Yet I must admit he was a good friend to most people in here.
  • Katy Kung as Zhong Si Ya (鍾思雅). I don’t know. I wasn’t into her character at first after the whole incident with messing with Sam’s laptop and destroying valuable information. At least almost. Yet later on, her character somewhat grew on me when she finally grew up and was serious about work.
  • Raymond Chiu as Ou Gao Rong (歐高榮). Very clever. He talked less and did more, making him so mysterious yet cool at the same time. So Raymond doesn’t have the look yet he’s very charming and witty in his own way, making his character very convincing. I liked how he was always doing things silently and never took credit for his work. He was not arrogant either and not abusing his power like that one time when the others thought he was Mr. Ko’s son. Probably because of that hence Mr. Ko trusting him to do so much.
  • Oceane Zhu as Susan. I thought she was quite clumsy and somewhat fussy at the beginning. Yet I found her quite lovable later. Though she seemed weak on the outside but was quite strong inside. Like how she found out her boyfriend was cheating on her but kept her head high and continued on, not coming back to him after he begged. Also, she was very considerate of others though she could be so girly at times too. A different role for Oceane comparing to her role in Twilight Investigation yet her performance didn’t disappoint at all.
  • Queenie Chu as Qing Qing (菁菁). At first, I found her character so cool and multi-dimensional but due to the plot that had dragged some of the characters down as well, she sunk along with the others, coming out quite disappointing as well. I rather they brought back more of the Lolita persona to make her expose Jessie and more than have her NOT speak up at all–just like some others. I liked how she was yelling at Li Chun that one time at the restaurant. Why not use it later on too? But then again, the script sucks so it didn’t matter if she wanted to or not, she couldn’t control it. It was too unreasonable that she became quiet and somewhat a doormat again later on. Didn’t make sense. Yet it didn’t mean I disliked Queenie. Still convincing.
  • Celine Ma as Bai Mei Gui/ Rose. Never doubt her in the acting department. She made it quite convincing with her performance throughout. How she was so fierce and somewhat of a hateful person to a more likable one near the end. Though her straightforward personality still stood tall until the end, which made her different from some others, she became more tolerable as in her habits and how she treated others. She had always taken care of people around her yet she had tuned down on some bad habits. I liked how she was the other wise voice in the whole Jessie thing since she hated that too and didn’t even have a hand in it, even encouraging the cancellation of the wedding. It wasn’t like she was evil YET she just hated fake people.
  • Glen Lee as He Jia Ming (何家明). Odd and silly at times yet found his story touching with how he set up that one skit with the others to make his ‘Uncle’ proud.
  • Becky Lee as Cen Hai Er (岑海兒) aka Tang Jing Jing (唐晶晶). Mixed feelings. I didn’t really think much of her at the beginning but soon got used to her. Then the plot ruined it by making her sounding so unreasonable and inconsiderate with pushing Bei Er as well. YET I rather they focused on her bonds with the others at the newspaper place. Because I quite enjoyed her scenes with others at various points, especially the part where she tried to help Jia Ming with the whole meeting his ‘Uncle’.

Others:

  • Geoffrey Wong as Brian. It was a shame that he was the scapegoat for some other cause. I quite liked him and wonder if he would get any other serious role in the future aside from these comedic ones. Not that I don’t enjoy it but feel it’s a waste. Is this the price of leaving ATV? Like ATV was doing anything at that time but still. A shame.
  • Steven Ho as Liu Li Chun (劉立春). I really hated him at first for cheating and ruining his future like that. Yet I found him the wisest–among all those that were cheated and hurt by Jessie–later on. Because he was the one who asked the whole question about whether it was worth it to keep it from Guo Dong and all. I knew it wasn’t just some side jealous rant then because honestly, he had gotten over it and he was convincing in that area.
  • Griselda Yeung as Jessie and Rachel. I must say that it was quite convincing with her playing both roles of Jessie and Rachel since I had a feeling they were different characters. And sometimes I even wanted to side with her character, Jessie, more than the main people because they were seriously dumb enough to fall for it OR not even expose her so why not, right?
  • Mannor Chan as Ann. I found her somewhat despicable. I don’t know why she would still have face to ask Bei Er for favors later. OR even talk and chat like normal with Bei Er. So she admitted she spoiled Jessie hence the consequences now. YET she kept doing it and acted like everything was normal later, which was even more unacceptable. But I guess some people are just too forgiving OR WAY TOO NAIVE so she was able to pull it off as well as her daughter in playing the pitiful card.

Favorite Characters?

  • Mary Suen/Sun. I said it in the other section already and I will say it again, the only intelligent person throughout regardless of the obstacle. Very brave, blunt, and witty in many senses. Quite graceful as well. Never cease to surprise me with her jokes. Yet she always meant well. But she was never fake at all.
  • Bai Mei Gui/Rose. Another favorite character because of her straightforward personality and somewhat intelligent and witty nature. I guess for her case, it would be called cunning more than intelligence YET I felt she was a lot smarter than some characters in here so I clap her on. Except for that one time when she was trying to pull Bei Er and her family together too BUT I sort of forgave her for that because the positive just won over the annoyance.
  • Mr. Ko. YES, hilarious at times yet he was quite clever also. Well, if he didn’t let his emotions get in the way. I also found it funny that he and Ou Gao Rong were in it together that one time, not clarifying about their father and son status. Priceless actually. Another funny moment was how he was doing all the chores for the Zhong family and acting like one of their members, LOL!
  • Ou Gao Rong. An intelligent person and quite capable hence the trust and many assignments bestowed on his shoulders. Already said most of the things I want to say so don’t want to be that repetitive.
  • Susan. Need I say more? No. I sort of forgave her participation in the whole wedding because honestly, she just wanted to participate in the fun and didn’t know about the whole conspiracy–unlike some people who had all the pieces of the puzzle but clammed up.

Sadly as it was, I narrowed it down to only these choices. Why? It seemed like the majority had disappointed me immensely with their stupidity at one point or another. NOT that I want them to be perfect. Yet the scriptwriters ruined it by making a lot of things so complicated when it was just plain common sense. NOT to mention how half of them were like drinking some kind of stupid potion throughout or something. Like they were too eager to torture themselves that sometimes I just want to side with the villain just for kicks.

Pairings:

  • Elliot Yue and Helen Ma. Odd couple, considering their characters. Yet I found it touching at various points to learn how they met and fallen in love. Not too mushy yet could be a guide for their children to understand the story behind their past and respect them more as a couple.
  • Kristal Tin and Stephen Au. I was so rooting for them but halfway through, I got turned off. Mostly because the plot had ruined their foundation. Whenever they were together later on, I really liked it, but I can’t stop thinking about the stupid details that went along with that. Too bad.
  • Kristal Tin and Geoffrey Wong. Another collaboration as a couple. I really, really liked them as a pairing since watching No. 8 Bus and TVB had really used that to their advantage each time trying to find some pairing with Kristal. YET too bad he always get the toss aside in here.
  • Law Lok Lam and Yvonne Lam. Man, the hilarious older couple in here. I really loved how their story started and developed in the later parts of the story. Many hilarious twists and turns as well as when the serious issues were addressed to test their relationship. It wasn’t just about love but respect. YET I was super convinced of their odd chemistry, not just because of the plot.
  • Jason Chan and Lily Ho. Was this a resurrection since their collaboration in Pages of Treasures? I must admit it was all right in the other one though I do not remember much anymore. Had mixed feelings with that series so I tend to tune the rest of the stuff out at times. But not bad since it was kind of cute with them and somehow, I liked how their relationship matured over time. Then there was the whole idea of her being all talented and graceful. Call me a sucker for it but yeah, I don’t mind their pairing.
  • Matt Yeung and Katy Kung. I was so glad that they paired up instead of Tian Kai ending up with Jing Jing. I don’t know. It made it somewhat cute that he was with his ‘xiao shi mei’ AND that it was fun watching them bicker and then working together at times.
  • Glen Lee and Becky Lee. Strange pairing but whatever works. I guess they had to gift-wrap everything hence letting them end up together as well. Not to mention how they had a good musical background and would be suitable, etc.
  • Raymond Chiu and Oceane Zhu. They were so cute together. I loved how they were friends at first and then developing into a romance. A typical cute love story. YET I didn’t mind because it fitted with her bubbly, sucker for romance character and his somewhat prince in shining armor one (even if he was just an average guy to some people). I also liked how their characters eventually got married in the end and shared the happiness with the rest of the characters, not just forgotten like that. (Or I would rant even more. NOT kidding here.)
  • Tsui Wing and Celine Ma. So unexpected since I thought Rose would end up alone in the end. YET that was so cute and funny in a sense. I guess her good heart paid off since she was able to marry a person she often dreamt of, having wealth and all. And I swear it was so deserving because she was kind enough to hang out with the kid and helped the kid, etc.

What was disappointing? Heaps actually, but to break it down, here goes:

  • The family conflict with Bei Er, Hei Er, and whatsoever. I don’t know who was right or wrong YET they had implied and stressed and even wanted to shove it in our faces with the importance of family–regardless of the details throughout. I seriously was sickened by the fact that they (the scriptwriters) paved it so lamely. I got so confused with all the recounts from different characters that I eventually gave up altogether on it. However, it never made sense how they put the blame on Bei Er’s father. I swear, it was so weak, considering how the mother left with Hai Er already. I meant okay, she explained that she knew the father loved Bei Er more hence taking the risk. YET it didn’t make sense because of possibly the fact that we were so used to the flashbacks of how Bei Er’s father was so sincere and nice and kind. OR it was her point of view. YET I just didn’t trust the other two, mostly because their portrayals were too poor or too fake OR something. At least at that point. I just wasn’t convinced. Then came that whole idea with how everyone was shoving and pushing for Bei Er to accept her mother when she had to overcome so much of finally realizing that Jing Jing was actually Hai Er and more. They were pushing her too much that I felt it was too sickening. AND I didn’t see the logic of just because “family is important” that they should push her. She needed space and time. Even if she remembered later and came to peace with her past, but I wasn’t convinced either. Considering how the others kept blaming Bei Er IF she chose to ignore them. They kept scolding her for being cold-blooded, etc BUT who the hell abandon her ages ago? How could she accept them in two shakes? Who’s the cold-blooded one now? I couldn’t help but associate this to Pages of Treasures in relation to Abbie (aka Shirley Yeung’s character in there). What the heck was that? I just couldn’t accept their twisted morality of forcing others to accept and admit when it was so weak with the setup of the plot. Then there were the whole recounts with blaming on the ‘China Town’ in the other country being close-minded and not understanding the situation with the Cen family. How lame was that? I don’t know. But it made me feel more suspicious than ever.
  • The love-hate thing and whatever else with Zhong Guo Dong and his ex-wife and the people involved. The other thing that made me want to throw things at people in here. I knew by the time that no one was saying anything that it would be up to Jessie to leave before anyone else made a move. Seriously. That was soooo bad AND stupid of everyone to think they should just hold it in. After all, Guo Dong was right that his only true friend was Mei Gui. Though afterward, he still chose to marry Jessie, which was LAME. So messed up YET Jessie wasn’t exposed properly that made me even more pissed. She was so scheming and manipulative yet the others tolerated her? It was like they thought it was okay that Guo Dong lived with such a psycho? SO fake. Seriously, in real life, IF you find out someone had harmed your family member in the past and was back to do it again, would you let them? Regardless of the reason, you would be more than protective. It doesn’t matter with past guilt OR not. You start putting up some radar–even IF you want it to work. What was even more despicable was how dumb Bei Er and Qing Qing were for not saying anything because they were the ones having pieces of the puzzles. I think after all that was done–wrong or what, Li Chun was smarter than the rest of them since he was asking Bei Er that one time at a cafe place about how they were letting Jessie return to Guo Dong’s side AND how if Guo Dong hadn’t been so successful now, would she jump in with him again? It wasn’t like she wasn’t rich herself. But it was like it was something for her to grip on, like seeking a perfect or successful person versus a loser such as Li Chun now (or so people would dub him as). Talking about Li Chun, that was the other frustrating thing about not exposing everything since Jessie manipulated the details, making it like she’d mistaken Li Chun for Guo Dong one time BUT it didn’t seem so with Li Chun’s recounts and some details here and there. HELLO, sometimes I just want to side with Jessie altogether and let her bring the rest of them down since they were so dumb.
  • How stupid people were. This could be combined with both of the choices above YET I want to emphasize even more. Anyone have common sense? I don’t believe in real life people would still react that way. Like loving to be someone else’s puppet and torturing themselves and others around them like that. It was like I rather side with the villain than them at times, especially the Zhong family and eventually Carmen as well as some others at the cooking classes/dessert shop.

What needed to be focused on more?

  • The main theme. YES, they still talked about food and all. YET somehow it got lost along the way. Though it resurfaced again through different stories, I felt it wasn’t developed enough.
  • The newspaper people. I rather they expand more funny stories or random ones so we could understand some of the employees there more than so much on family or love dramas of the Chung/Zhong family. Sure, they were the focus of the sitcom YET it was too lame when they were too focused on with trying to resolve some matters. I rather the scriptwriters went toward the random/nonsense route than attempt to teach us a bunch of twisted morality stuff.

Recommended? If you want to waste your time, go ahead. If you like their twisted morality story, go ahead as well. NOT that I disagree with the essence of it, but I hate how they approached it. Why in the world did I watch it and even continued if I thought it was so terrible? Typical me wanting to see if it would improve. Then there was the whole ‘good foundation’ at the beginning with some witty exchanges here and there. But I was wrong and it didn’t improve at all–despite the fact that some side stories were worth watching more than the ones involving some major characters. Then there was the whole thing about curiosity like I said before, wanting to see what else was similar to When Dolphin Met Cat and all.