Eddie Cheung, Hong Kong Entertainment, Jessica Hsuan, Kenneth Ma, Michael Miu

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.

Eddie Cheung, Mainland China Entertainment

Fighter of the Destiny


I finally got around to watching this a while back but haven’t posted the review yet. I also need to clarify that I didn’t read the novel so I will just base my review on what’s in the series. I actually tried to read the novel but got impatient and then flipped to the end a bit. I ended up hunting down for the summary of some characters instead and understand a bit about the situation of the adaptation. But back to the series. How was it? I’ll save the rants for it below.

Main Cast:

  • Lu Han (鹿晗) as Chen Chang Sheng (陳長生). He was really likable and relatable as a protagonist. I felt there were many sides to him that it was enough to be an interesting main lead. He had serious moments (plenty, considering how his death was always looming) and funny scenes–where he interacted comfortably with the others. I liked his intelligence and his kindness toward others. Sure, he had moments where he was super stubborn, but that was what sold me on him, considering how most main leads nowadays were just too good to be true. I felt his rouge sides added to the character, but how there was a balance to his character so it wasn’t too over either–like trying too hard and then failed. What I also liked was his sword, lol. Super cool and convenient for road travel. He could store everything in there. This was my first time watching Lu Han and I must say I was surprised. Not that I doubt his capabilities of being the main lead. It was more like I only heard of his name but never watched him before. I was glad to finally watch him in this series.
    • Yang Ceng Xi (杨曾曦) as Childhood Chen Chang Sheng (幼年陳長生).
  • Guli Nazha (古力娜扎) as Xu You Rong (徐有容) aka Holy Girl (聖女). I don’t know what to say about this character except extreme frustration throughout. Okay, I have a lot to say yet I had to calm down for a bit to be able to write this review. First off, as the main lead, I felt she was really robbed–regarding the script. Sure, she appeared a lot. But I felt the writers played her major time. She was so bland that I felt I couldn’t justify half of her actions. Sure, she was after all their Holy Girl and had to act appropriately according to the rules, whatever. But I felt, later on, her contribution to the plot was so weak. I wished she had a solid story so it convinced me why she was the main lead. I didn’t need her to jump in and save the day all the time. That would be unrealistic. Yet I felt aside from the scene where they conspired to save Chang Sheng out of that maximum-security prison, she didn’t have other scenes where she stood out. Sure, she fought along their side and contributed to help think of plans, but I felt it was still weak. It was still a part of her duty sort of thing. I liked her stubbornness and how she wouldn’t marry QSJ just because the others wanted her to. I liked her rebellious schemes later on–when she finally agreed to join in with the others to break Chang Sheng out (like said before). But why wasn’t she given anymore subplot to convince of her importance? It was 50+ episodes and she only stood around the majority of the time and discussed stuff and be lovey-dovey with Chang Sheng at other times? I got that she was smart in her own way and I liked that she had her reasons for not wanting Chang Sheng to become too obsessed with the constellations. But what else was there for her? Even her scene where she sabotaged Nan Ke’s wedding became a plot for QSJ to turn around. Really? I felt she just became a plot device so QSJ could shine somehow or just a reason for CS and QSJ to disagree–although I do like Chang Sheng a lot. But it didn’t make it any less of frustration to see the main girl so inactive. Aside from that, I felt that Nazha had improved so much with her acting since The Classic of Mountains and Seas. I’m proud of her. It sounds confusing, considering how I criticized the character so much yet I felt Nazha did a good job with portraying such a role, showing the depth of her character with whatever was given. She exuded the Holy Girl vibe very well and was quite articulated. Her ability to express with her eyes also improved immensely as well.
    • Lu Chen Yue (吕晨悦) as Childhood Xu You Rong (幼年徐有容).
  • Janice Wu (吴倩) as Bai Luo Heng (白落衡) aka Luo Luo (落落). She was my favorite female character in here. I was surprised. I thought I would dislike her because of a possible role in the triangle. But I felt she had exceeded all expectations. She was lively and fun. Not to mention so loyal and caring and lovable. There were so many sides to her. She was sort of spoiled too–somewhat–but she was still likable in many ways. I cried many times for her and felt that Janice did a very good job. I liked her since watching DOMD and felt she acted quite well in there. She took her acting to another level. I think her performance was what made her character so likable and enjoyable to watch. It was really sad to see her acting so passive toward the others later. I thought it would be for the best later since she had to move on anyway. But it was really tragic. The transition of her character also proved Janice’s acting was quite convincing.
  • Joseph Zeng (曾舜晞) as Tang Tang (唐棠) aka Tang San Shi Liu (唐三十六). He was hilarious. I loved how he was Chang Sheng’s first friend since arriving at that place. I thought he would be arrogant and look down on Chang Sheng, but he wasn’t so. He was quite grounded for a somewhat spoiled young master. He loved to show off and was very proud of his inventions. Yet he was surprisingly likable. Sure, he did have his crazy moments and was mad at Chang Sheng over some misunderstanding too. But I thought I forgave him since he did leave that one group to join Chang Sheng’s school to show his support. When things mattered, he did back Chang Sheng up. Not to mention, all of those inventions. It was too cool. Anyway, he was my second favorite male character in here.
  • Amelie Xu (许龄月) as Mo Yu (莫雨). I didn’t like her at all–if that was too cruel to say. Yet it was too hard to like her. It wasn’t because she sided with QSJ regarding the triangle either. Partly, but like how the rest of that place totally looked down on others–it was like a rule or something, you have to look down on outsiders to be called one of them. I could respect it that she finally admitted it that Chang Sheng had a good side but she was still siding with QSJ regarding the triangle. Yet what I found ironic for the majority of the series was how she didn’t see it that she was forcing You Rong YET she didn’t like the empress’ nephew either (who hit on her multiple times during the earlier parts of the series). I felt bad for her that she had become that way near the end. It was sad for her and Tang Tang yet that didn’t make her a top character for me either. Hey, I found it super hard to like You Rong too so it wasn’t like I was just picking on her.
  • Gao Han Yu (高瀚宇) as Xuan Yuan Po (轩辕破). He was probably my favorite male character in here. After having watched him in SCI Mystery, I was ready to see another role of his. In fact, that was the reason why I moved on to watching this series earlier than expected. (Yes, my list’s still super long and I don’t know if I could finish it in this lifetime, really.) I had followed it while it was airing but didn’t think to watch it so soon. Anyway, back to GHY, definitely a different role from SCI since his IQ was brought down even more, lol. But he was a really lovable character. He was funny–without knowing possibly. He was seriously loyal and caring toward his friends. It was hilarious. I also liked his crush on Luo Luo and felt it was too bad they couldn’t be together either. Well, he was going to guard her temple later so it wasn’t for nothing. But still sad. The saddest part was how he was crying–or on the verge of crying–knowing that she would forget him too eventually and seeing how it was already happening to Chang Sheng. What was even funnier with him was how he loved to eat but also could cook up a storm. It was a nice touch since in other series, we only get to see those loving to eat and pig out from others’ cooking. Yet he was able to do both. Anyway, GHY’s acting was quite good in here. I think I like him even more in here.
  • Chen Shu (陈数) as Tian Hai You Xue (天海幽雪) aka Holy Empress (圣后). Mixed feelings throughout. Sometimes, I got it from her speeches or her intentions that she was looking at the bigger picture and caring for her citizens. Other times, I just thought she was crazy.
  • Eddie Cheung (張兆輝) as Yin Xing Dao (寅行道) aka Royal Scholar (教宗大人) aka Red Robe (紅袍). Um, I have flashbacks of the ’90s when Eddie was portraying villainous roles all over again, lol. His schemes were elaborate and he was smart enough to stay in the background. However, I felt his intelligence could only be so much. Why? Seriously, he wanted to become king and all but ended up having to control the constellations as well? Um, not too smart there. Aside from that, I didn’t doubt Eddie’s acting.

Supporting:

  • Yao Di (姚笛) as Nan Ke (南客). I didn’t like her but had to admit her character got some mystery and depth to it. Even if she was from the opposing side, I actually admired her stubbornness at times. I hated her stupid jealousy rants but felt she had a better story than oh-say the main girl. Yes, I kept going back to that, but I seriously don’t get why You Rong got the short end of the stick like that. Anyway, I thought the actress did quite well–like some others did in here. She showed her emotions nicely.
  • Johnny Zhang (张峻宁) as Qiu Shan Jun (秋山君). Seriously, right from the start, I didn’t like him. It wasn’t because of his involvement in the triangle. But I’m known to not root for the too-good to be true guy. He was so bland and flaky that I found hard to relate to. People who are way above others/on top of the world would fall the hardest when meeting with obstacles and he indeed fell hard. The fact that he only got more interesting once he turned was really sad. I felt his saving point was the actor’s acting. Because he was so convincing in those scenes, the struggles and the unwillingness to let go of many things in his life. And then there went the reason why I was so mad at the writers. They managed to conjure up such a story for GSJ and couldn’t come up with an ounce of a decent plot for You Rong? Seriously? Even Nan Ke got some depth to her character–aside from the senseless jealousy.
  • Archie Kao (高聖遠) as Jin Yu Lu (金玉律). It was really interesting to see Archie in an ancient setting, lol. I wasn’t used to it but found his character likable. Archie didn’t disappoint in the acting department–obviously. I sometimes felt really bad for him for having to chase down Luo Luo time after time. Later, it was revealed their relationship wasn’t just that of master and servant but there was something deeper. He treated her like family and even promised to stay by her side in the future. Too bad he wasn’t able to fulfill that promise. It was really tragic with his death. I shed a few tears. One of the most tragic deaths of the series.
  • Lin Si Yi (林思意) as Little Black Dragon (小黑龙) aka Zhu Sha (朱砂). I loved her. She was hilarious. At times, she was so stubborn but she was quite likable. One of my favorite scenes was when she used one hand to hold her food and the other hand to lift the door for them to flee. It was awesome. She was after all a powerful dragon. The other character in here who was obsessed with food, lol. I don’t think I could blame her since she was trapped in that place for so long.
  • You Jing Ru (尤靖茹) as Qi Jian (七間). I didn’t care for her sect nor the rest of the members, but she was an exception. Not just because they were isolating Chang Sheng because they were taking their senior’s side, but how they were looking down on Chang Sheng and others in general. Anyway, she was different for me because–although she liked Qiu Shan Jun–but she had a likable persona to her since she appeared. It was like something I was looking forward to finding out more–or if she would appear more than some of the cast in here. It was a different character, so I was curious. She turned out to be quite righteous and reliable later. I didn’t just like her because she later followed them and aided them greatly–that was a bonus, but I liked how she was different from Nan Ke (aka someone else who liked QSJ but reacted differently). She wasn’t jealous of others who liked QSJ or the one QSJ liked. She was grounded in that way and was smart and determined in many areas. Although the others treated her with caution, wanting to protect her at times, but she proved herself to be quite capable.
  • Fu Li Jun (冯荔军) as Gou Han Shi (苟寒食). I had to make an exception from that one sect for him too. Sure, I got that he was worshiping QSJ too–it was hard not to, but I liked that he knew how to think for himself, not acting as a crowd to bully Chang Sheng. Initially, he wanted to show loyalty for his senior, but later interacting with Chang Sheng, he learned to respect Chang Sheng. I felt he was actually a true hero among the members of his sect, NOT QSJ. I’m not saying that because I sided with Chang Sheng regarding the other triangle, but I felt Gou Han Shi was a hidden hero, not showy but genuine.
  • Liu Kai Fei (刘凯菲) as Zhou Yu Ren (周玉人) aka Black Robe (黑袍). Zhou Du Fu’s younger sister. That was a major surprise. I meant with her relation to Zhou Du Fu. It was interesting how she collaborated with the Red Robe dude and then later wanted to switch sides. It made sense since they wanted to survive or at least take down whichever side they felt was more of a threat. But just found that really interesting. I had some suspicions during the scenes where they were in the tomb like she had a special relation to Zhou Du Fu but didn’t realize it was that close.

Others:

  • Eric Tsang (曾志偉) as Taoist Ji (計道人) aka Shang Xing Zhou (商行舟). Chang Sheng’s master. I thought he was a funny master, considering how it was Eric and all. But I felt he totally played Chang Sheng major time. Yes, he seemed to have his reasons back then, but it was sooo messed up to inflict such tragedies into Chang Sheng’s life. But I guessed since he had no one, it was so easy to influence and change his life however. I felt Chang Sheng was already so forgiving with the situation. I wasn’t grateful that he sided with them later and not with his junior. I felt it was overdue that he did something.
  • Fu Jia (付嘉) as Yu Ren (余人). Chang Sheng’s senior, the real son of the Holy Empress. I seriously didn’t think much of him so it was a surprise that he turned out to be the real son. I didn’t mean I looked down on him or anything. I liked that he was Chang Sheng’s good senior and always supported and encouraged Chang Sheng on throughout. However, I thought he was just another character. Well played.
    • Liu Ruo Gu (刘若谷) as Childhood Yu Ren (幼年余人).
  • Wang Ce (王策) as White Emperor (白帝). Luo Luo’s father, also the king of the demon clan.
  • Gong Bei Bi (龚蓓苾) as White Queen (白后). Luo Luo’s mother, also the queen of the demon clan.
  • Xue Jia Ning (薛佳凝) as Mo Yu’s mother (莫雨母亲).
  • Zhai Tian Lin (翟天临) as Zhou Du Fu (周独夫). Interesting character yet there were many things I still wanted to know about him.
  • Ren Shan (任山) as Tian Hai Cheng Wu (天海承武). Tian Hai You Xue’s older brother. Didn’t think much of him except he was there to cause conflicts.
  • Que Zhe Ming (曲哲明) as Tian Hai Ya Er (天海牙儿). Tian Hai Cheng Wu’s son, Tian Hai You Xue’s nephew. I felt his character was as useless as his father. It didn’t really contribute anything except side dramas.
  • Quan Pei Lun (权沛伦) as Guan Fei Bai (關飛白). It was indeed a shocker for him when his senior turned and killed him, which he realized wasn’t intentional but it was too late.
  • Xiao Yu Liang (肖宇梁) as Zhuang Huan Yu (莊換羽). I didn’t care for him throughout, considering how he was super jealous of Chang Sheng and still dared to act all righteous. He was a coward and despicable. So it was strange to see him trying to help Tang Tang that one time and then died in the conflict. It was strange. Did he repent when I blinked? Because by that time, I was getting really impatient to see the series wrap up.
  • Maggie Siu (邵美琪) as Xun Mei (荀梅). Short appearance, but sort of interesting to see.
  • Wang Gang (王岗) as Tang Qiu  (唐秋). Tang Tang’s father. Mixed feelings.
  • Zhang Jia Ding (张嘉鼎) as Tang Hai (唐海). Tang Tang’s adopted brother. I didn’t like him at all. It didn’t matter what his excuses were and his actions throughout. He didn’t gain any sympathy from me. It was sort of funny seeing how Tang Tang kicked him to Kingdom Come, lol.
  • Hao Shuai (郝帅) as Xiao De (小德). A general of the demon clan, wanted to marry Luo Luo. I was suspicious of him at times. Or because of his mysterious nature. But anyway, I guessed it was all right. At least he didn’t cause trouble or linger too long.
  • Yu Yang (于洋) as Shuang Er (霜兒). You Rong’s servant girl. Couldn’t really like her either although I know she couldn’t really be blamed since she can’t really control her own life.
  • He Zhong Hua (何中华) as Emperor of Zhou Dynasty (太宗). Only seen briefly at the beginning of the series and soon passed away.
  • Gao Yang (高洋) as Goddess of the demon clan (神女). A somewhat important role that influenced both Chang Sheng and Luo Luo’s destinies later.
  • Wu Ze Jin Xi (武泽锦熙) as Medicine Furnace Boy (药炉童子). Hilarious. I enjoyed his scenes. He was what made some of the scenes light up even more.

Likes:

  • Cast. The majority of the cast did quite well.
  • The music. Always loved listening to Zhang Jie for theme songs so it was enjoyable for me. The rest of the soundtrack wasn’t bad either. It fitted with the series in general.
  • The majority of the friendships/bonds in here. Although some characters I cared for more than others, I had to admire them for their loyalty and support when things mattered.

Dislikes:

  • Flashbacks. Seriously, this is the problem with the majority of the series nowadays. Once again, I loved the music and liked hearing the songs. But I found at times, the flashbacks were unnecessary–except to promote the songs and possibly extend the length.
  • Length/Pace. Seriously, flashbacks contributed to the problem. On top of that, they didn’t know how to focus on the right story.
  • Organization. It was a mess. The jump back and forth between scenes wasn’t well planned. I meant there were some subplots that dragged on and on, then later it jumped to another subplot. It made us forgot what in the world happened with the other one. I wouldn’t want them to jump so dizzily from one scene to the next but at times when they show what was happening here vs another, it was really slow. Then at another time, they just glossed over essential details.

Recommended? I think it’s considered average. It could be a good series, but the length killed it. It should have been 35 episodes. Because of the reasons I listed above, the length was unbearable in many ways.

Eddie Cheung, Eddie Peng, Mainland China Entertainment, Wallace Huo

Our Time Will Come: A Wallace and Zhou Xun Collaboration

This was actually shot before the Ruyi one but I think the other one received more attention. Anyway, this is a movie directed by Ann Hui. It’s a war movie.

Many war movies focused on the male side, but this one will focus on one of the notable heroines of that time, Fang Lan (方蘭), but she is often known as Fang Gu (方姑). This is, of course, Zhou Xun’s character.

Wallace will play her lover, Li Jin Rong (李錦榮). His name sounds really, really familiar. I can’t place it at the moment. Not sure if he was mentioned or appeared in Dong Jiang Heroes yet wasn’t focused on since the other drama focused on Liu Hei Zai and his side mostly.

Which brings me to the other essential character of the drama, Liu Hei Zai. He will be portrayed by Eddie Peng. (Good luck with that since Wang Lei already stole my heart, lol.)

They will be joined by other veteran stars, such as Bau Hei Jing, Ray Lui, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Eddie Cheung, and more.

Check out the trailer (uploaded by 双喜電影 A Really Happy Film). It looks quite promising.

*All images were collected around the net hence belonging to their rightful owners.

Eddie Cheung, Gallen Lo, Hong Kong Entertainment

Battle in the Royal Court

This was one of the better series of the ’80s. I seriously think it might have been better than some of the productions that the five tigers were in. Although there were more deaths than I would prefer, I guess it had to be that way, considering the theme.

Main Cast:

  • Gallen Lo as Shen Zhi (沈). One of Gallen’s best roles actually. It surprised me since I didn’t watch him until his series in the ’90s and even if it was awesome and that the majority loved his characters yet I felt it was too over-hype for some reason. Yet this one made me appreciate him as an actor even more since he shone like way before that. He delivered quite well, showing all ranges of emotions–from the smart leader to the somewhat mischievous person that he was at times alongside Margie’s Princess Yi Lan to being a filial son to his fathers (his real father and the adopted one). As a righteous hero, he wasn’t perfect, but his determination made him noble.
  • Margie Tsang as Princess Yi Lan (伊公主). Margie didn’t disappoint with her character. She was witty and charming, which helped with her character heaps. As Princess Yi Lan, she was intelligent and cunning hence her father trusted her to give her such a huge responsibility. I was glad to see Margie shine in this role and although she did suffer so much for the main guy yet didn’t have to die like some other series that got me frustrated. I was so glad she had a happy ending this time in a serious series.
  • Eddie Cheung as Zhu Qi Yu (朱祈钰 ). Eddie delivered effortlessly. At first, he indeed gave the impression that he was a genuine person, just looking for someone to help him with overthrowing his brothers and somehow restore peace so that the citizens could live happily again. Yet it wasn’t so. Many said that he changed yet I think he said at one point (which we could all trust) that he never changed, it was just that he had to resort to anything to ascend the throne. He was just good at pretending and manipulating everyone around him. He was also patient. Even if somehow he was good at one point, his lust for power (aka becoming king) had overwhelmed all the reasoning that was left in him.
  • Eugina Lau as Fang Guan Hua (方冠華). When I first saw her, I thought it was another boring role since I had stumbled across quite a few of those from her. Yet this one was a tad different. Although she did fall for the wrong person or someone she thought she could trust and marry, she didn’t tolerate his evil side or tried to convince others to forgive him just because he said he loved her. She still loved him (like she said at the end when they were both trapped in the cave) yet she wasn’t going to let him hurt others, especially all the innocent lives that were forced to participate in a war that no one wanted in the first place. I had to admire her for that. What got me a tad disappointed was that she became inactive for the majority of the series later on. I wasn’t referring to screen time but her role as an overall, like how we saw her teaming up with Shen Zhi in defeating this one evil monk with their swords technique yet she was dismissed of her talents later on and it seemed they totally forgot or cared for that special swords technique for the rest of the drama or something. But I guess it was forgivable since they (the scriptwriters) were trying to bring the focus back on the battles among the different powers in here that were trying to rise to the top. Oh yeah, I was seriously confused about whether she died or not at the end. The way it seemed was that she did, but I wasn’t too sure.
  • Nathan Chan as Shen Hong (沈鸿). I swear I thought he would be the bad one among the three guys. Yet I was wrong, and in a way I was glad. Because I swear, I liked his character, although a tad hot-headed but was really loyal to his sect and cared for his siblings dearly. He was also quite righteous. What got me really pissed off though was how he was killed off when the series was almost over. Seriously? I guessed they had to emphasize the consequences of being involved in some nasty battle between different parties. But it didn’t make it any less frustrating.
  • Josephine Lam as Zhang Xin Xin (張欣欣). I didn’t realize Josephine was around for that long, lol. I probably didn’t watch the right series to know. Anyway, loved her character in here. Although she was misled when she first appeared yet her character was quite lovable as the series progressed. It was also quite sad to discover that her father had lied to her and had anticipated to fulfill some big plan for his own gain. It was also quite sad that became her downfall later on as she realized her father wasn’t going to repent for his past misdeeds and had caused the death of Shen Hong hence her wanting to end her own life as well.

Others:

  • Bobby Au Yeung as Zhu Qi Zhen (朱祈镇). I didn’t know whether to feel pity for him or think of him as weak at other times. I don’t mean that he was sick the majority of the time either. But I mean how wishy-washy he was later on. I guess it was understandable that since he was weak since little, he didn’t get to learn or experience with daily life stuff. However, sometimes I got impatient with seeing when he would mature. Yet after all that happened, I had a sinking feeling he would turn out exactly like his other siblings. I meant okay, it was good that he was determined on some matters, not wanting to let some parties get away with their past misdeeds yet his determination to go after those parties, like getting rid of them all made it chilling to some degree. Bobby’s acting was really good, seeing the transition between the confused, kindhearted person that he was at the beginning and turning into a possibly scary person at the end. I think that was also why Shen Zhi decided to fake his death and leave with Princess Yi Lan since he had seen enough and had been through enough of those conflicts. (Not to mention how Shen Zhi had lost more than enough in his life. When he felt like he wasn’t able to convince Zhu Qi Zhen into toning down his aggression, he thought it was better to leave. Who could blame Shen Zhi, right?) Maybe that little skit also somewhat convince Zhu Qi Zhen to let go somewhat and thought of what Shen Zhi said before it all went down. Because looking at Shen Zhi’s supposed body at the end, we were able to see how Zhu Qi Zhen gaining some past glint of his kindness in his eyes.
  • Cary Choi as Qu Ying Zhi (曲盈枝). Her character was mysterious and intelligent when she first appeared. Her charm and beauty just came along with that. It was subtle and didn’t overshadow her intelligence and grace. What I meant was she had this natural but not elegance beauty like some others in here yet that didn’t dim her character. She had a somewhat of a cold-face image about her yet she was probably one of the kindest persons. It was like one of those images we often saw in the ancient beauty, where they seemed cold-faced yet wasn’t so if we got to know them sort of thing. Even more so, it created this mystic aura around her. Perhaps, she was too kindhearted that it became her downfall. Cary didn’t fail to convince me and she was probably my favorite female character in here-although I liked the other characters too. That was also why her death made me even more pissed off and making me want to reach into the screen and slap Zhu Qi Zhen for not believing her. (Can’t blame him since the scheme was indeed elaborate yet it made her trust and love for him a joke.)
  • Cheung Ying Choi (張英才) as the late king. He was portraying his typical role as the weak-minded king who might or might not be swayed by some schemes like in this case some voodoo stuff. When he realized what was going on, it was too late. Not only with his other two sons but also with his supposedly “good” son.
  • Chu Tit Wo (朱鐵和) as Shen Hong’s father and Shen Zhi’s adopted father. He was one of my favorite veteran actors in the old days. Not sure what’s going on with him now or if he’s still active. But although brief appearance, he made his role worthwhile to watch. One of his tragic roles.
  • Kitty Lau as Shen Chu Ba (沈初八). Shen Hong’s older sister. Having only watched her portraying wealthy roles for some of the series that I managed to catch of her in the ’90s, I was surprised to see her in this type of role, associating with jianghu conflicts and all. What made me confused at one point was whether she was dead or not, but I was guessing yes since she didn’t appear in the later parts. What got me confused was how they didn’t mourn her enough like some characters in here. She was after all the main leads’ sister.
  • Sin Ho Ying as Leng Feng (冷峰). For the majority of the series, I was scared that he would die yet he didn’t. He had a close call at the beginning of the series when he was captured along with Shen Hong.
  • (???) as Taoist Qing Feng (清風道長). He was probably one of the smartest persons in the Bai Lian Sect. He was level-headed for the majority of the time and was able to plan his moves carefully. He was probably one of the most important persons around Shen Hong when Shen Zhi was MIA, considering how Shen Hong could be so hot-headed at times.
  • Cutie Mui as Ying Er (颖儿). She appeared briefly as Guan Hua’s maid and contributed to the somewhat hilarious atmosphere at the beginning of the drama. Yet she died tragically along with most of the Fang household members.

Couples:

  • Gallen / Shen Zhi and Margie / Princess Yi Lan. I was really, really surprised of their chemistry. Perhaps it was because I never thought of them pairing up together. But it was strangely natural. I swear that they were Zhang Wu Ji and Zhao Min on some level, lol. Of course, the exception was there were no third parties involved, except for that one time she misunderstood there was something going on between him and his adopted sister. I actually enjoyed their story for the majority of the time. Sometimes, I pondered if they were going to work out or if it was the tragic route–like how it was with some of Margie’s past roles with her dying. I also liked it that they didn’t make her perfect or more likable (like too good to be true for the main girl in nowadays dramas). Yes, she did eventually change her mind after having been around the Ming people for a long time, realizing that citizens there weren’t any different than her citizens, also wanting peace. But she didn’t dial down her liveliness. She was still intelligent and cunning, but she directed her efforts elsewhere. I also liked it that he didn’t change completely either after meeting her or after being with her. That sort of defeated the purpose of liking the persons they were in the first place–at least to me. They both kept on being themselves, but the only change–which made sense–was thinking for one another as a couple.
  • Eddie / Zhu Qi Yu and Eugina / Fang Guan Hua. Seriously, their relationship sure fazed out fast. Possibly because his lust for power was way stronger than his compassionate side for others. Their relationship started as a bickering relationship and actually had foundation at first. Probably that was why it hurt so badly with his betrayal later on and eventually tossing her out like some disposables. It was seriously cold. What I liked about their relationship at the beginning was their love for swordsmanship and how they practiced together and/or compete. It was also somewhat nice to see that he had created a sword for her and all. It would have been nice to see him die by the sword he made for her. But I guess TVB needed a battle between the main guys to end it all.
  • Nathan / Shen Hong and Josephine / Zhang Xin Xin. Their relationship started out as a bickering couple yet ended tragically. I swear TVB just had to go and kill them like the last minute of the series. It was seriously messed up and one of the reasons I was sore about. But I had a gut feeling that his ending had to do with her father’s doing although I had anticipated it differently. Still, it didn’t ease my anger a tad when the scene of him lying dead rolled around. I hoped for a miracle that the scene in the main theme only meant she found him lying around (because of the angle of the scene) and would bring him back so the others could save him. But it wasn’t so. I actually did cry during that scene (like how I did when Ying Zhi died).
  • Bobby / Zhu Qi Zhen and Cary / Qu Ying Zhi. Tragic. I think I felt tenfold more sorry for him during their ending. I felt what hurt the most was that he didn’t believe her. It was the last scene they were together, the part where he visited in her cell and asked her if she’d betrayed him. She was, of course, heartbroken–completely, saying that it didn’t matter if the others didn’t believe her yet what matter was that he believed her. In the end, he had questioned her motive so what was left for her? I was intrigued by their meeting from the start, wondering how it would work out and wonder if he would die. I had a higher bet that he would be killed off by his so-called “brothers” than surviving till the end. Yet it was she who died tragically because of how his so-called “brother” tried to frame her and eliminate her from his twisted plot.

Recommended? Worth it? I thought it was actually a good series on its own, not comparing to others. It might not be much to some people since they weren’t considered star-dubbed like there was no member of the five tigers involved or their other famous co-stars. (Margie was considered famous back then since she did star in quite a few major productions with the five tigers, but I felt like she wasn’t cherished by TVB hence her not getting enough exposure like some others I didn’t care about.) Yet this one had a good plot, even if it had turned out frustrating at times. It was a series about the battles to gain the throne so of course there were bloody deaths or sacrifices so it wasn’t like uncalled for. But it didn’t feel over-hype. The pace was just right, not too slow and not too fast that it was confusing. So you didn’t feel the drag of the plot. Not to mention the focus wasn’t just on a few characters and that was it, they were more engaging with the side characters as well. Yes, there were goofs or unknown areas, but I felt it was good enough as an overall. All in all, this was a 4 out of 5 for me, because of some factors I mentioned that I was sore about.

Aaron Kwok, Eddie Cheung, Hong Kong Entertainment, Janine Chang, Taiwanese Entertainment

Murderer

(image credit: scanned by DTLCT)

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I have to say that I’ve never been scared of Aaron Kwok in my life, considering he’s one of my favorite singers and actors. But this time, I was very freaked out, to say the least, because of this movie.

The story started out as a typical psychological, murder mystery. It had us going throughout that Aaron’s character, Ling Kwong, must have done it–but just lost his memory. The typical, over-killed plot, right? WRONG! He wasn’t really the murderer in the end–as the title had implied since the beginning and the details had let on throughout. He wasn’t exactly the killer behind it all yet he might as well be. Not because there was no evidence to prove his innocence. That was partially it and the reason why he’d been driven to insanity eventually. The actual event that made him became the murderer was killing his long-time friend and partner in the police force, who was portrayed by Eddie Cheung.

What made this movie worth watching for me was seeing Aaron in a completely different role. He was still a cop–as for some previous movies/ TV series–but wasn’t just a typical charming cop with a sense of humor. Maybe because it was suitable that there was no humor because of the intensity throughout the movie. (Duh, right? I KNOW!) This time, it was different because like I mentioned, there were lots of clues leading us to believe he was indeed the murderer. Not to mention how he kept denying it but Tai (portrayed by Chen Kuan Tai) was so scared of him when he woke up. It made sense that he was the killer. But that was another element to mislead us into thinking there was no hope for Kwong. Kwong would eventually pay for his crime, especially after having killed his long-time friend. Yet he was actually paying for a different crime altogether and the most coincidental thing was he didn’t commit either one of the crimes. The first being the serial killer they’d been seeking for all these months. What was the second one? The crime of unfaithfulness committed by his father years and years ago. Was this like the saying, “What the father owes, the son will have to repay”? Because seriously, that was what happened in this case because his half-brother was out for revenge and he was caught in it all, knowing he couldn’t change anything after he landed in prison at the end of the movie…except wait. Wait for a day when he finally got out and have another opportunity or bulletproof plan to seek revenge.

The second reason why it was worth watching for me was seeing this collaboration between Aaron and Eddie. I don’t know if they’d worked together before–possibly yes. But it was interesting seeing how they teamed up for this one. Their friendship seemed genuine and solid yet it proved that it did not pass the test. Mostly because Kwong had gone bonkers. Even if it wasn’t totally his fault because he wasn’t in the right of mind but I felt that was the biggest mistake he made that landed him in a no-win situation in the end. If Eddie’s character had survived, there might have been more to look forward to. Sure, there would be delays yet more clues would reveal itself and there would be an ally for the final battle with the little devil (literally).

One other thing that made me want to watch this movie was seeing Janine Chang. YES, not a good reason to watch something since it could be misleading. Yet I didn’t mind this time after checking out the plot already. (At least the basic summary.) She had limited screen time but it was all right since the focus was supposed to be on Kwong and his journey to finding out the truth. At first, she was like the rest of them, thinking that Kwong had lost it, but later was convinced by Kwong to watch out for the half-brother. If she’d been more careful, she would’ve survived. But I guess that wasn’t the point because that little devil was definitely careful and manipulative all along. Her death was the cruelest comparing to the others–possibly because we got to know her character somewhat as a sweet, caring wife. Randomness-wise, she made an interesting pairing with Aaron. I thought it wouldn’t work but they were quite in sync with one another.

There was also Chin Ka Lok’s brief appearance as one of the cops. His more important role for this film was the action choreographer, which proved quite convincing. The music also played a big part in helping this film achieved its eerie effects.

Recommended? If you’re looking for something to scare you half to death at night, watch it. Watch it at night! It’s scarier. And if you’re willing to give it a try, that is.