Charmaine Sheh, Hong Kong Entertainment, Law Lok Lam, Michael Miu

Line Walker

If only I watched this series much earlier. Because this was actually one of the good ones in the past ten years regarding TVB series. I guess it was just that when I tried to dive into a series for the sake of Michael Miu, he was portraying some less than favorable character–or it was same old, same old. I didn’t feel there was a challenge for him. Even if he was in that one series with Felix Wong. Unlike some of the past series he was in since he returned, I felt like this was much more up to his par. Aside from that, the plot of this series was decent enough that it didn’t contain those characters that were just too good to be true aka unrealistic. This was a true gray areas series that got you thinking at times more than the tired same old you must let your enemies stomp on you left and right to be considered a good person, so yeah. I was surprised and glad that it stayed consistent throughout. Sure, there were corny moments, but it was just there to buffer the intensity of the main plot.

Main Cast:

  • Michael Miu as Cheuk Hoi (卓凱). Once again, this was one of those series of Michael’s since his return to TVB that I felt was worth it. The last I tried to watch of him was My Better Half with Maggie Cheung. I did like their chemistry together but didn’t like where the story was going, so I dropped it. I even dropped Gun Metal Grey, so there were was that. (Side Note: I felt Gun Metal Grey was just using him and Felix to promote the new generation SO it was a rip-off and not meant to be a Felix and Michael reunion at all, so I didn’t even bother to continue. Although I did like both of their portrayals and his chemistry with Jessica Hsuan in there. Yeah, it ties in with what I said above regarding Michael’s repetitive roles of the past few years.) Anyway, this one gave his character not only capabilities but some depth. He wasn’t a goody-two-shoes at times either. Sure, he wasn’t going to resort to the extreme or lose his head in situations (because of his experiences over the years) but he wasn’t going to sit in a jail cell and rot either. He knew he needed to get out and use his wide networks and resources to get answers. It made him more flexible and realistic than say some typical recent main character TVB often drew up. So yes, I felt Michael had more to work with and try to shape the character more. He, of course, had times when he was unsure of what to do or if he was being a good handler to the others, but he never lost his goal. He felt like he failed Bao Seed when he couldn’t reason with the latter but he knew he had to continue on. And I so fell for it when I thought he might be bad, lol. Not in the sense that the others thought. But I had a feeling like he was hiding something. Totally exuding the Yang Hong vibe at that moment, lol. Like was he really a good guy or nah, lol. But it was the part where he was all like trying really hard to nail Bao Seed. I thought his going to prison later had to do with him finally losing it because in trying to stop Bao Seed, he lost his head. That would be some major twist for the show all right. But it was all an act and we could see another level of acting with Michael himself but also his character as an undercover agent. He was showing them all his capabilities and why he was their handler, not just always sitting behind a desk to enjoy the AC–as some would put it. He was the real deal and he got the experience to back it up. It was a good turnaround all right.
  • Charmaine Sheh as Ding Siu Ka (丁小嘉) aka Ding Jie (釘姐). I think her character in here was a mixture of the characters in Angels of Mission and When Heaven Burns. Yes, the cop identity and how her humor reminded me of Angels of Mission and the goth appearance reminded me of When Heaven Burns. However, the similarities only ended there. Because the events of the plot development led on to other parts of her character that were more complicated. The trials and tribulations she went through shaped who she became later on. In fact, it was a test for her. Her most traumatizing scene must be at the hospital and learning that her adopted mothers had all passed away after that tragic event. It was so frightening and it shook her world to the core. Charmaine brought out that scene really well. Who could imagine? Her safe zone got breached and torn apart just like that. All in all, this was a character worth it for Charmaine fans who wanted to see her in more challenging roles.
  • Raymond Lam as Suet Ka Keung (雪家強) aka Bao Seed (爆Seed). I haven’t watched anything of his in a long, long time although I know he could act. I seriously miss it. But it was because I didn’t like any of the themes or cast he was involved in for the longest time. Sad, but true. I was glad to finally have a role of his that I liked in here and could actually look forward to seeing the sequel when he comes back again. Yes, I went and hunt down some news just out of curiosity and realized they made two more installments–aside from the movies. (Yeah, I’m that behind on TVB-related series and/or movies because I can block it out if I don’t care for it.) Anyway, he showed some acting depth in here. The character was full of layers and he totally delivered at each stage of the plot development. It was addicting to watch what else he was capable of and how his character evolved. It went on many layers of emotional rollercoasters and explored why he took to the extreme with his actions in the name of justice.

Supporting Cast:

  • Sammy as Lin Ho Kan (連浩勤) / Kobe. I actually quite liked him after watching some series that he was just some minor character. So I was glad to see him being a bigger part of the plot throughout. I enjoyed his character and his stories throughout. He sure got what it took to be an agent. Sure, he had his vulnerabilities and his worries at times, it was understandable and very real, considering how and what they had to deal with on daily basis. It was indeed really scary. What got me really mad was giving him that tumor. Seriously? The writers need to lay off the Korean soaps for a bit and steer it back onto the topic or something. I was really frustrated that he wasn’t able to stick it through to the final battle. Sure, he helped a lot while struggling to survive. Yet, I felt they’d taken him out of the game with the tumor on purpose. It made everything so antidramatic in that sense because he’d been there from the start. Now he’s out of the game? I liked the other characters too, but I felt he needed to be there front and center with the others. I welcome some new changes to the plot and not so typical outcomes, but this was pushing it for a cop versus gangsters series.
  • Sharon Chan as Mok Sin Yan (莫羨昕). I had mixed feelings for her when she first appeared. Partially biases because she kept stalking Cheuk Hoi and making it like he was a criminal. However, I tried to step back and see it from her point of view. She was just doing her job and indeed was just cautious. She was at least consistent in her principles and goals. She loved Kobe dearly but tried to keep a level head or at least tried to move on. Her professionalism was also shown throughout. She was always strong and stuck through it, not caring if she lost her job over some publicity game her bosses were playing. She found another way to help others, not just by being a face to the public only. So yes, her principles and consistency were what I loved about her character. Back to Sharon in the acting department though. I mean I think at times she stepped backward and forward. I think I could say she had improved in her old days, but I feel she was still stuck in the same phases at times that she couldn’t pull out of.
  • Benz Hui as Chum Foon Hei (潭關喜). I thought he was going to be a typical gangster that they would bust and then that was it. But it wasn’t so. Sure, he was always smiling (duh, his name, lol), but he could be so ruthless and chilling in many ways. Yet I didn’t think the writers would prop up Benz Hui in this series and even spanning it into two more installments. It was crazy to imagine but this was one of Benz’s amazing roles since whenever. I’m not praising or rooting for gangsters here. But I think plot-wise and characterization, it was really well written with the complexity of his character and how Benz brought forth with his portrayal throughout. You’re scared of him and you know he could carry out a lot of crazy schemes. But you could also laugh with him or cry with him even. For a gangster boss, he was sure relatable in many ways. Of course, I never doubted Benz’s acting since I grew up watching him, lol. But I was surprised TVB could allow the writers to shape his character so that it has become the highlight of the show. Considering how TVB always used veteran actors to prop up their latest batch of newbies. (I don’t hate new people, I just hate TVB politics at times. Also, again, totally poking at Gun Metal Grey.)

Others:

  • Oscar Leung as Cheung Muk Wing (張木榮) aka Muk Sat (木蝨). I swear, I thought he would make it till the end. I didn’t read spoilers or tried not to, so I didn’t realize he was going to be sacrificed as well. It made sense, but still not any less tragic. His death sort of united them as the golden three again, but also fused Bao Seed’s anger even more. He wanted to do something big but didn’t realize how far or how deep things could get with all sides fighting each other and he was caught up in it. It was a surprise that the scriptwriters made it that he liked Ding Jie, but whatever, it wasn’t like a major focus or anything. Once again, Oscar delivered his role convincingly.
  • Patrick Tang as Yip Siu Leung (葉兆良) / Marco. Head of OCTB and was often seen to be in disagreements with Cheuk Sir. It was revealed he was much more involved in the grand scheme than what was let on the surface with his constant rivalry with Cheuk Sir. I never really liked Patrick that much in the past, so this one made it easier to hate him, lol. That probably also meant he had improved in his acting. It would be hard if he hadn’t, lol. But seriously, have to give him credit for making the character despicable enough. The plot didn’t have to make him the mole as well, I already hated him before because he was being a huge asshole to Yan and how he pretended not to care YET had sought out revenge against others and eventually lashing out at her. Of course, he went to the extreme and it later revealed another side of him. I just initially thought that he was just corrupt and didn’t care if he crossed a line to win over Cheuk Sir. I meant everyone crossed the line one way or another at times in here. No one was a saint either way, especially if they wanted to survive when they were going undercover. But his disturbing actions off-work made it harder to like him, especially of his controlling behaviors toward Yan–as stated before. So, yeah, that was a little twist that he was also involved. I was just glad his character and/or story arch didn’t drag out until the end. That would be torture. The writers wanted to focus on the big picture, so it made sense to navigate toward letting the other characters see how big the scale was with the influences the latest gang had in society in general.
  • Lau Kong as Kwok Hok Wah (郭學華). I think I overlooked him, sort of. Because I drew the connection with him being Cheuk Sir’s master and how well they got along. Okay, I was more focused on the fact that they were father and son in The Legend of the Condor Heroes ’83, lol. It was hard not to see the connection, lol. Aside from that, I thought it was cool that they were collaborating on a grand scale in here. Okay, I might have suspected if he was in on it because after I wasn’t really paying attention to Yip Sir, thinking he was just a typical asshole, he turned out to be a mole. I wondered if Kwok knew about it, considering how higher up he was and it seemed like Yip Sir managed to get away with a lot of stuff. So yeah, that was when I suspected him.
  • Elena Kong as Mok Sin Ching (莫羨晴) / Katie. I was a bit taken aback when she first appeared. No, it wasn’t Elena, lol. I knew she was in there. But based on the main theme, she was involved in the court scenes, so I just didn’t expect her story to start from there. It made sense later and I was glad she was able to pull out of such a tragic situation–with some help from Cheuk Sir. I was also glad that they developed her story even more before allowing her to move on with more romance, which I will elaborate on below in the relationships section. Obviously, I had watched Elena since she was with ATV and loved her performances–regardless of roles. So, no complaints about her acting.
  • Law Lok Lam as Kwok Teng (郭正). I swear, I didn’t expect him to be involved as well. I meant, I thought he was just there as a side development to Katie’s story. It made sense for her to return to work and face challenges that would test her professionalism and her sense of justice. Yet his character had taken up another level. Yup, he sure was good at the innocent act all right. It made sense with the schemes they were in. They wouldn’t want to draw attention, just acting normal for the majority of the time.
  • Stephen Huynh as Pong Yin Ting (龐彥廷). He appeared later in the story but was a major character that shouldn’t be overlooked. He was indeed a strong opponent, which made a lot of sense because he was one of the masterminds. It would be a joke if he wasn’t always so cautious of his actions and be suspicious of those around him.
  • Samantha Ko as Lam Hei Mei (林希微) / Amy. I suspected from the start regardless of the fact that she turned out to be another undercover cop or not. She was too suspicious. I was glad they sprung a trap for her later and wasn’t too blinded by the fact that she was also a cop that they overlooked that bit.
  • Skype Chan as Tse On Yee (謝安儀) / Ada. Omg, I sorta suspected her and I felt so guilty for it, lol. Well, trigger response, but half of the population were suspicious at one time or another. You just never know with them. But seriously, she was a very cautious person and managed to aid Yan a lot while she was part of the team and was still alive. I thought she would survive till the end. Like she would somehow escape or fight back. But Yip Sir was indeed experienced with his routine and was prepared, so it had to be that way. She, of course, wouldn’t go down without putting up a good fight–and even left them some clues as well. Another tragic death and a character worth mentioning.
  • Toby Leung as Chiu Mei Yin (趙美賢) aka Yin Chai (賢仔). Cheuk Sir’s niece and also worked under his department. She was quite hot-headed at times when dealing with others. However, some of her anger wasn’t irrational. It showed her righteousness. She was all right I guess. She was just doing her job and possibly even more. I’m no longer sure if she still gets the heat for stuff, but I guess it’s a good idea to keep her out of the limelight for now, lol. This was years ago, but still.
  • Jimmy Au as Hong To Hang (康道行). The unlucky person who was killed off at the end of the first episode. Well, he had to die for the chain of events to unleash. But still, that was a shame not being able to see more of him. Although brief, I really liked his collaboration with Michael and how their characters were friends and understood one another’s mentality. They joked at times and also managed to give one another advice when the time called for it.
  • Chung King Fai as Chin Sui On (錢瑞安). So, he was the real mastermind. It was seriously full of twists and turns to see how it turned out. It took Cheuk Sir going undercover to unearth that one. Many people could see how innocent and harmless he looked, so that was a good twist. But it made sense with the number of people involved that he would have anything to do with it as well.
  • Sam Tsang as Lok Kei (骆祺) / LK. A lawyer. He was seen at times representing some people and was also a strong rival of Katie in the courtroom. However, I wasn’t too sure how much he knew. Probably not enough to get him killed? That they only needed his legal knowledge and what he could do at times? But he did give that weapon to Kwok Hok Wah, which he hid under the table, so I doubted that he was that oblivious to things.
  • Cheung Kwok Keung as Sum Kam (崇金). A rival of Chum Foon Hei who came back for revenge. He was sure scary and sure was crazy enough to measure up to Chum’s scale. However, he wasn’t cunning enough to win.
  • Ankie Beilke as On Lam (安琳) / Amrin. She was a very tragic character. I didn’t like her at first because duh. But seriously, I sympathized with her later, how her adopted father went through to keep her under control and used her for his revenge schemes. Her death was one of the most tragic in here and shook everyone involved to the core. It showed us once again that death was expected when involved in such a situation. We, as the viewers, thought she could finally escape and broke free of that horrible past. However, she chose to return to help and eventually lost her life.

Relationships/ Friendships/ Romances, etc

  • Michael Miu and Elena Kong. Surprisingly addicting to watch. I liked that their relationship started slow and then turning into romance. It wasn’t rushed or too forced, trying too hard to convince us. He accidentally discovered her domestic violence situation and couldn’t stay out of it. I mean, who could? Then he tried to help her and his investigation had led to an even more shocking discovery. Well, on some levels, she probably knew, but she was trying hard to stick around for her ex-husband because of his depression after losing his job and other stuff. But it turned out he was just using those excuses to finally carry out the final part of his plan (aka the final con to get her money). Cheuk Sir was meddling in her business, but he felt the truth was better than lying to herself. She was finally able to stand up on her own and started over. It wasn’t just in the matter of romance. But she learned to live for herself first and got her career back. There were some side encouragements from him and sometimes a little shove in the right direction, but he gave her space to build her own strength. Then they started their relationship. It felt right at different points of the story, not just rushed or randomly.
  • Charmaine and Raymond. I think this is my second favorite collaboration of them where they actually paired up. What was the first? It was actually Lethal Weapons of Love and Passion. Yes, that long ago. Because I didn’t like how their relationship was going to head toward in The Drive of Life–with both of their family histories and all. I gave up around the 20-something mark. I meant to go back but never really could. So I guess I don’t have to go back anymore since I got this one to fuel me. Because seriously, this one was a mixture of cuteness and seriousness rolled into one. They were so funny together when the time called for it and also had some of the most touching moments without making it too dramatic. Well, there were many dramatic scenes, but I felt like the way they portrayed their characters at those points and how they interacted with one another made it natural, not giving off the flakey feeling like in other dramas that created that intensity on purpose to draw in views. Sure, it was created that way, but it wasn’t too obvious because it made sense to the plot itself and the theme surrounding the gangs and all their conflicts. The most dramatic scene between the two of them was probably the part where she confronted him and asked why he didn’t do anything to save her adopted mothers. We, as viewers, knew that he tried and was held down and watched in helplessness. It was really hard to explain it without it sounding like an excuse. How could he say it when he was still processing everything? She also needed to let all her feelings out. But the turnaround to it was how they both needed to cool down and realized what had happened and why it did. He took it to the extreme by wanting to resort to all methods to punish the criminals yet she told him to let go because she reminded him they were supposed to be the lawful cops and doing it according to the books. Despite all the grief and pain that she went through, she was able to see clearly they couldn’t sink to the others’ levels and destroying themselves too. Sure, it mostly had to do with the fact that she had some time to calm down already. But I was amazed that she didn’t go that way. They went through so much together and their conflicts and the consequences of many events spilling out. It was so intense to the point that we weren’t sure if they could ever heal from it. Yet the turnaround wasn’t too corny either. At least, it made sense for me how they healed through time.
  • Sharon and Sammy. OMG, can the writers just leave these two alone? Please? Too late now, I know. But seriously, why must they endure such tragedies? It wasn’t enough that they had a misunderstanding, lost their baby, finally reunited at long last to be separated again because of a tumor? (throwing my hands up in frustration but mostly for dramatic purpose) I mean, come on! I loved watching them and was one of the rare times I didn’t mind such a dramatic romance in the midst of all the intensity. It was a different kind of story from others in here. But that was soooo sad. I mean it wasn’t like it was the first time a tumor separated lovebirds. But these two seriously need a break after all that they’d been through. Sure, she learned to live and she built herself up through his encouragements to help others, not just depend on him, but seriously? It wasn’t like she wasn’t capable before but losing him had really affected her in ways she didn’t realize.
  • The team as a whole. I felt each and every one of them had a bond that was unbreakable for the most part. They started out unsure of one another because of what happened to Hong Sir. Then they learned to work together–through all the events of the story. For some, it took drastic turns; for others, they learned to get past it. There was a variety of reactions that was more realistic than just keeping the constant positivity. They also developed various types of relationships throughout and became more understanding toward one another, which made sense because of how much they’d gone through together.
  • Elena and Sharon as sisters. I didn’t really feel it at first but got drawn into their relations a little more. Maybe it was because how Katie managed to start over and they had more time to bond after what happened. It was also how Yan managed to pull out of the other toxic relationship and was more determined to keep to her goals. Their care and worries for one another at times were enough and weren’t overkilled some other dramas seemed to let on with family relations. Sure, I know people react differently depending on bonds or if it was a family member and all. But I felt their story was more believable.

Recommended? I think this is one of the rare series that I recommend recently, especially for TVB. Hey, especially if you’re fans of the main cast. If you’re a Charray fan, definitely a must-watch.

Deric Wan, Hong Kong Entertainment, Law Lok Lam

Drunken Fist I

This was a series I recently stumbled upon. Anyway, this had a promising start. Then it just tanked episode by episode. Or should I say scene by scene? I went and did some research and realized it was from a comic series. I didn’t mind the corny costumes or the side senseless humor at the beginning. Well, I actually thought those parts were funny. I think it went downhill after the initial conflicts and setup of how different parties were at odds–whether the good vs evil or evil vs evil, whatever those were. Or more specifically, it went downhill right after it revealed who Lei Gang’s real father really was and how his mother died, etc.

Main Cast:

  • Kong Ng (吳剛) as Wang Wu Ji (王無忌). I used to watch him in old TVB series but didn’t realize he used to star in series too. He was charming and funny in the beginning. The character seriously had potential, but it also tanked like some others in here. What tripped me was his journey to find his father’s sword and also trying to master the drunken martial arts skills. Yes, those were realistic goals for him, but it made me think that the drunken martial arts got forgotten until like the last five minutes of the series. He got time to master some of the other skills but didn’t really practice that actively at times. I got it that they were going through some issues and he wasn’t able to practice properly except for that one time when he was stuck in the cave with Xian Er. But that was for a totally different type of martial arts. So yeah. The development crammed his character major time.
  • Moon Lee (李賽鳳) as Liu Xian Er (柳仙兒). Moon did an excellent job of portraying her character. I really felt for her. I initially didn’t like her character because she was so scheming and all. I thought it wouldn’t turn out good for her. However, the turnaround wasn’t too bad. They managed to show how she was forced into listening to her father (because he was her father after all and they only had each other for the most part) and how she realized she shouldn’t use those people who trusted her. The struggles were real (or it was convincing). She tried to convince her father to let it go with the other situation (and he couldn’t really change the reality of it anyway–with Lian Bi Xie already ahead of them). Whatever it was that happened to her character, Moon conveyed it really well. I think her acting was one of the reasons that helped me sympathize with her thus bringing me back to her side after the manipulation schemes.
  • Yip Yuk Ping (葉玉萍 ) as Drunken Girl (醉娃). Her character turned out to be a major disappointment. The actress did fine, but I thought her character could have done more regarding matters. Or was that just the plot? I thought she was funny at first and somewhat mischievous later. I was fine with that since I didn’t need her to be perfect or bland. Those mischievous moments showed the audience who she was as a character. What got me annoyed wasn’t the fact that she liked Lei Gang. She couldn’t help it. What made me disappointed was how she was so into him that ended up causing more trouble. Sure, she couldn’t kill him or outright sever ties with him (even if she tried). Yet what annoyed me was running off to look for him hence causing even more trouble for others, even her grandpa’s death later. Yes, I totally blame that one on her, considering how she was lying about worrying for the other two yet it was because she wanted to go down the mountains to search for Lei Gang. Then her grandpa had to go find her and then the inevitable. The plot also wasn’t helping her, cutting into her character development. I thought it was so cool she became the disciple of the God of Sword. Then she also claimed the leader title after having won the matches with her sect. I thought she would get a chance to achieve major accomplishments. Well, even if not major, at least minor ones along the way that would lead to her helping others in the long run. Not just the other group to defeat Lian Bi Xie, but could just be helping the local citizens in general. Yet her life seriously just revolved around Lei Gang and causing troubles whenever she appeared.
  • Johnny Wang (王龍威) as Lian Bi Xie (練辟邪). I didn’t care for him at all. Although, I have to admit I fell into his trap at one point, thinking that something must have happened for him to be so bitter. Yet I realized he was just playing victim versus others whom he hurt along the way. He was just trying to justify his actions in accomplishing his cruel master plan.
  • Lau Ga Yung (劉家勇) as Lei Gang (雷剛). I don’t know if he was just a bad actor or his character was just plain terrible, to begin with. But it wasn’t helping either way. His best part was probably when he confronted Lian Bi Xie, saying that LBX wasn’t his father and then stormed off after letting out his frustration. It was justified that he was mad about what happened and thought that LBX was trying to manipulate him and turning his adoptive father against him (which was true). Somehow along the way, he managed to have a talk with LBX (after the cave scene and LBX saved him from the boulders) and it made sense that he wanted to learn about his real father. However, what got me frustrated to no end was how he kept switching sides. It was endless. He kept jumping ship. I got it that he could change his mind either way. Yet the switching sides were like a time loop of some sort. He wasn’t reconsidering matters seriously or seemed so later on. He just switched whenever it was convenient. He seemed to want to redeem himself after he fell off the cliff that one time. Then he went back to LBX again. It was a possibility that he was conning them about turning good. But the plot just continued to make him change sides until it was getting ridiculous. Sure, he could be the selfish type and only cared for himself and doing things that were only beneficial to him. However, it didn’t make sense again how many times he changed sides. He kept arguing with both sides about not understanding him as well. It made sense the first few times that he was confused. But then later, he was just plain switching whenever convenient or whatever. That made my second point about his acting being terrible. He wasn’t able to show his emotions (except for the part mentioned above) and how everything he did or said seemed in monotone or robotic mode for some reason. So it was very hard for me to be convinced of anything regarding him.

Supporting:

  • Ming Leung (良鳴) as Drunken Immortal (醉仙) / Drunken Cat (醉貓). He was fun at times. Well, they both were. Too bad they also paid a heavy price in here. It was very frustrating since the series was almost ending and then they just died.
  • Law Lok Lam (羅樂林) as Lei Jian Fei (雷劍飛) aka God of Sword (劍仙). I had my doubts about him at the beginning. It was mostly due to the fact that he was too righteous, too strict, and too into keeping up the sect’s reputation. It made me feel there was something off. And I must admit that Lian Bi Xie made me have some doubts–like why there was such hatred and also what the Demonic Immortal said about him being the fake righteous type. So yeah, I was holding my breath–although I wanted to like him. Then just like that, he was killed off by Lei Gang. It was tragic but also quite frustrating.
  • Cheng Lui (鄭雷) as Demonic Immortal (魔仙). I thought he was going to be another hard enemy for them to deal with in the long run. Yet it turned out differently, mostly because he was driven to take Lian Bi Xie down, not caring about them being a threat as much. Then later, it was because he wanted his daughter to be happy. It was so unexpected that he turned out to be a likable character, considering how he caused some major problems at first too.

Others:

  • Eddy Ko (高雄) as Mighty Sword, Wang Wu (大刀王五). Seriously, that was so sad that he just died like that. I understand it was because of the way the plot was and how his son was the main character of the series. Yet having him in it sort of brightened up the show a bit.
  • Cho Tat Wah (曹達華) as Drunken Beggar (醉乞). Omg, I can’t believe that he was only there for some episodes at the beginning. I thought he was going to be a major character that would influence Wu Ji hence the “drunken” part of the title. Yet it wasn’t so. Even if Wu Ji promised to practice his skills, the drunken martial arts was forgotten until like five minutes before the show ended (like said above). I loved his character, it made the corny humor less corny. It made me laugh when he was getting into mischiefs with Wu Ji. I know they couldn’t pause the plot at that point all the time, but I rather see them as a mischievous team from time to time than Lei Gang’s repetitive switching sides scenes.

I will skip the extended discussions and just go straight to whether I would recommend this series or not. Definitely a no for me. I mean if you have time to kill and want to check it out, you can go ahead for old series’ sake. But I thought this was one of the worst ones. The two saving graces of this series were the cast–many whom we came to love–and Deric Wan’s song to lead the drama. Regarding the second point, I didn’t pay attention at first, and then I realized it sounded like Deric singing. It was strange hearing him sing in an old ATV series. Yet when I looked it up, it was true. Anyway, what made this series so lame for me that it was unredeemable was like I said above, many repetitive scenes–which happened to be most of Lei Gang’s scenes. Then there was the whole killing ALL of the major characters in here. Like the previous generation. Even in the end, they (the scriptwriters) had to kill all the monks too to prove that Lei Gang had to go. Really? It was getting ridiculous. I was sad to see some of the elders dying at first but thought it was supposed to bring out our frustration and made Wu Ji more determined to seek out revenge and/or justice for them. I realized later it wasn’t so. They were just doing that because they can. So yes, major disappointment as the series progressed. That was the reason why I didn’t want to watch season 2. Maybe if I have some time to kill in the future, I will check it out just for kicks.

Hong Kong Entertainment, Law Lok Lam

The Chinese Ghost Buster

I recently stumbled upon this series. I am a fan of Law Lok Lam so of course I dived in and watched. I must admit that it was disappointing for an ATV series. Yes, I usually liked it for most ATV series that I watched in the past. There were exceptions, but not by much. This time, I went from excitement to disappointment so fast it wasn’t even funny. I got it that back then some effects weren’t that good yet for the fantasy/folktale themes. It was 1988 after all. Yet what I was disappointed in was the plot. All the cast involved, I thought, did really good. However, the plot was getting repetitive after some of the initial stories. It just deteriorated after like the first three cases and then stretched out the main plot to the point of excruciating. Not to mention the character developments seemed non-existent. Then near the end, they just wrapped it by making some fast changes. The series as a whole crashed and burned just because of the lack of development and poor planning on the pace as an overall.

I liked the Zhong siblings’ closeness throughout. They were both so stubborn, so like one another–yet it was because they cared for one another. Considering how both of their parents passed away when they were so young. They only had each other. I also liked it that she wasn’t easily pushed around like I initially thought she would be the weakling, crying girl waiting for people to save her. It passed after some initial scenes. It was understandable that she was freaked out coming into contact with some paranormal beings. I liked it that she was able to fend for herself afterward–more or less.

The other relationship or bonding I liked in here was Zhong Gui (鍾馗) and Du Ping (杜平)’s friendship. At first, Du Ping was also scared of Zhong Gui–because of his appearance–like everyone else. However, he later became a loyal friend and even put down his pride to accept lesser payments for his drawings so he could bring Zhong Gui’s body back home. After learning that Zhong Gui got revived to fulfill his new destiny in slaying ghosts/demons, he stayed and helped. At least, it was as much as he could. He wasn’t doing it just because of Zhong Gui’s sister either. He was serious about it.

Now, what I had a beef with was how sloppy it was with character developments. The only person consistent throughout was Zhong Gui since he was stubborn at times, righteous at others, and have his weaknesses yet he was a good person overall. I couldn’t say the same for Du Ping and Zhong Ling (鍾靈). Du Ping seemed to like Zhong Ling at first–or so I thought. Yet it wasn’t so, which I wouldn’t want to force him either. Then he went on his journey and met his destined lover (or so it seemed), then a tragedy happened so they weren’t able to stay together. It was clear. Yet what lacking for me was how eventually he accepted Zhong Ling as well. I got it, he had to move on eventually and I didn’t want him to stay sad and miserable and moping over her all of his life either. But he claimed so persistently in the past that he wasn’t interested in Zhong Ling, he just didn’t feel it. Then all of a sudden he accepted her just like that? The plot was a mess. It didn’t make sense. I got the argument with how Zhong Ling was hurting so much that she wanted to pretend he was dead so she could move on and how he was upset that she would treat him as if he was dead. Yet I didn’t get how fast they got together just after that brief argument. It was like the scriptwriters just wanted to give up.

Now, with Zhong Ling, it was also a mess on her own story/character, not just in relation to Du Ping either. Like I said, I liked it that she managed to take care of herself, for the most part, considering how she also knew martial arts. It was something her brother didn’t have to worry about as much–although he couldn’t stop worrying completely. However, I didn’t like it that the scriptwriters kept moving her character back and forth between being reasonable and unreasonable. I got it that some of her reactions were due majorly to her stubborn nature. Like how she didn’t understand how Du Ping didn’t like her. It hurt her pride. However, it made her character reasonable when she finally met Du Ping’s beloved and realized the other lady wasn’t what she made her out to be. I liked it that she was upfront about it too and apologized for misunderstanding the latter. I also got it that she was upset when she found out the other lady was actually a ghost and was possibly conning Du Ping. The worst part was that Du Ping didn’t believe her, even misunderstanding her for making up a story so Du Ping would change his mind. Yet what bugged me to no end was how she jumped from sympathizing with Du Ping and his lover’s fate to aggressively chasing Du Ping again briefly after the other lady’s death. It was uncalled for. Or again, the writers just wanted to give up. I know they wanted to get those two together yet still include the tragic romance with the ghost lady. It was all right with me, but they didn’t pace it right. Then they made Zhong Ling too desperate that it became annoying. They totally threw her character under the bus, thinking that was the way to go. I clap her feisty nature, but I didn’t like how the scriptwriters killed it with pace. They should have planned it better. They had plenty of time to waste on episode fillers for the later stories–which was non-existence with the development until the last episode. Did they rush the story just to ruin Zhong Ling’s character completely? She didn’t need to be a doormat character, but there had to be some balance with the pace. It made her really unreasonable–like said before.

I think the later parts of the story, even the demons’ side had more story developments–with their scheming and all–than the supposedly good side. What irked me even more was how they allowed Du Ping’s character to grow and even learned some martial arts and also some abilities to help Zhong Gui later yet didn’t do anything to Zhong Ling’s character. She was just there to fight over a man? That was it? Sure, she did some stuff near the end that the scriptwriters wanted to make it seemed epic. But that was so anti-climatic to me that I just wanted to roll my eyes at them. They just made her character appeared useless by the end.

Perhaps, the reason why I was so upset with the way things turned out with the series was because I am a major fan of Law Lok Lam and also Choi Sin Yee. They portrayed a couple in The Four Detective Guards, which I really liked them for in that series yet they had a tragic ending. Of course, because of their roles in this story, it would be too weird to think of that. But I liked Choi Sin Yee and would have loved it if they gave her some other things to do besides throwing tantrums because she didn’t get the man. Or worse, making her appear so brainless at times, although she meant well for the most part regarding her concerns for her brother. I wouldn’t want her to hog the scene too much since Law Lok Lam was the main character after all. But she was indeed one of the main cast and they did somewhat made her seemed like an important character yet didn’t let her contribute in a meaningful way at all. It was just romances throughout and somewhat of a loose contribution in the finale.

So recommended? NOPE. One of the rare times I don’t recommend an ATV series.

Dickson Lee, Hong Kong Entertainment, Law Lok Lam, Sonija Kwok, Wayne Lai

Under the Veil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dickson Lee, Hong Kong Entertainment, Law Lok Lam, Ruco Chan, Vivien Yeo, Yoyo Mung

Ruse of Engagement

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I must say that this was one of the most anticipated dramas for me since it was delayed for a while. I can’t wait to see a collaboration between Ruco and Ron. However, it was a disappointment, to say the least. Sure, it started out nicely and built the suspense bit by bit. But it began to crumble just as fast as it gained my confidence that the series would do well. Mostly because of certain characters. It picked up in the suspense department later on but fell short of being an epic drama because of how much frustration was going on throughout the series. Sure, frustration was one of the key elements contributing to the suspense but they didn’t have to depend on it to drag out the episodes. Why did they drag us through all that to end with such a tragic ending? Not like I couldn’t accept that since it was all possible with how things turned out. Yet some things didn’t make sense. Where to start?

Main Cast:

  • Ruco Chan as Carson Chong Yau Ching. Very arrogant and hot-headed at first. However, he wasn’t all bad. He was mischievous and not as obedient as some people. But he was indeed quite smart and resourceful. He was also capable of enduring all types of pain to take the most dangerous missions. I felt this role was quite good for Ruco. Yet the side things made it kind of frustrating, mostly in the romance area. But his acting was awesome in here, compensating for past senseless roles that he had to endure to finally take lead roles.
  • Yoyo Mung as Yip Ting. One of my favorite Yoyo roles up to date. In many ways, she was unpredictable so I felt hope for the series. Yes, she was a reporter but she wasn’t too annoying. There were many layers to her character and not so one-dimensional like other reporters in the past. She was stubborn but was also quite intelligent. There were times she needed rescuing but there were other times that she was able to fend for herself. She wouldn’t go down without a fight.
  • Ron Ng as Alfred Chong Yau Kit. Disappointed. I was looking forward to this role of Ron and didn’t care to read spoilers. Yet I felt they (the scriptwriters) didn’t need to throw Ron under the bus for this. Sure, I got that not everyone could be a hero and they were trying to make it different for this one. But I think there were too many plots with brothers competing (both for capabilities and girls) so for once I wish they would lay off this. Also, NOT cool that he was moving in on Jessica briefly after his brother’s death AND the most despicable of all was using his brother’s tactics to win over Jessica. Things didn’t turn out as he wished later but Carson sure was right in accusing him of wanting to get rid of Carson because of Jessica. (Although that was all misunderstandings, I felt since Alfred idolized his brother, the least he could do was believe his brother AND to remember what happened the last time and consider it was all undercover or some other reason.)
  • Aimee Chan as Jessica Chung Yat Ka. At first, I thought her character was cool. But she lost ground for me when Carson supposedly died. She was at a vulnerable moment of her life, but I felt it was just too easy to move on with Alfred shortly after Carson’s death. So when she was jealous of Carson and Yip Ting when Carson was just helping Yip Ting that one time and taking care of Yip Ting, I didn’t care. Jealousy didn’t have to make sense, BUT I felt like hey, who was she to act like such? Then I think that some things didn’t make sense in the end. I felt that it was too fast trying to make Jessica crazy and trying to end it on a tragic note since she suddenly wanted to do the same as her father with selling the stuff to foreign countries or other shady parties? Um, yeah, I got it that through various points, it seemed that Jessica was really fake. But we, the audience, only got it as we see, they (the scriptwriters) need to work on the plot better to let them (the characters) see that she was the cunning type, not suddenly going crazy and taking the easy way out after declaring that Carson had betrayed her. Well, he did BUT it was like everything was rushed and all jumbled in the last episode. OR something. Other than that, I felt that Aimee did a very good job for the role.

Supporting:

  • Eddie Kwan as Steven Shum Chi Ngo. Their boss but was suspected throughout as the bad guy.
  • Lai Lok Yi as Fu Wang-leung. He was said to be the mole later on YET was only used to further others’ agenda.
  • Dickson Lee as Paul Sir. One of the bosses. Tough.
  • Kenny Wong as Ko Wai. One of the bosses. I’m so sick and tired of seeing him everywhere and playing important roles. That was it.
  • Louise Lee as Tong Shuk Fun. Carson and Alfred’s mother.
  • Law Lok Lam as Kiu Kim Hang. Yip Ting’s adopted father.
  • Lee Kwok Lun as Chung Lai Him. Jessica’s father.
  • Vivien Yeo as Yeung Lok Man. Seduced and used Kiu Kim Hang at one point to further her agenda. Although Vivien’s acting was fantastic I felt it was a waste of time for her. It was just another bad girl role. So at least it wasn’t senseless, but still not worth mentioning since they (TVB) kept sinking her.
  • Leanne Li as Betty / Beauty Yeung Yan Mei. One of the AFT members.
  • Fred Cheng as Eric Lee Kam. Another waste of time. I don’t know. He was just there.

The ending? Seriously? Okay, I didn’t have a hard time believing that Carson truly loved Jessica. I just have a hard time believing that Carson was that irresponsible to leave his mother behind for Alfred to take care of. He had always been very filial to his mother–regardless of situations. So why did he do it? Well, he was devastated after how things turned out and how Jessica had accused him of betraying their love. Human behaviors are indeed unpredictable, but seriously? I got why Carson didn’t accept Yip Ting and actually felt it fitted his stubborn nature and how loyal he was to Jessica despite Jessica’s accusations. Yes, he did betray her trust by using her to extract some information yet he was trying to patch things up and somehow let her off easily. She was the one who went right to his brother after his supposed death the first time around, hello, in case anyone wanted to point fingers. I also felt the ending tried too much to make the whole Carson and Jessica thing worked that they had unknowingly throw Yip Ting under the bus. I didn’t think it was in Yip Ting’s nature to force Carson to accept her that fast right after Jessica’s death. So her offer proved that Carson wasn’t easily wavered, showing how loyal he was to Jessica. However, it didn’t fit with Yip Ting’s personality. Sure, she was upset when it seemed like he was sacrificing her for whatever was going on previously. But she wasn’t the type to just jump right in like that after all the chaos.

So recommended? Unless you want to choke to death with the ending, don’t. If you want to watch Ruco and Aimee as a pairing, I heard Outbound Love (單戀雙城) is a much better choice. (I haven’t watched it yet but will leave up it to the fans for that one.) On the other hand, I felt robbed because I actually quite liked the collaboration between Ruco and Ron, however, it was ruined when they decided to let the brothers fight over the same girl. Then there was the thing with crafting Yip Ting’s character so nicely to be tossed aside totally in the end. I understood why some of the stuff happened and Carson was too in love with Jessica to care about the other girl, but I felt it was such a shame that there was nothing going on between them except for the conspiracy they were in at one point. I totally would watch if one day Ruco and Yoyo collaborate again. Perhaps a better script, not just compensation for it like some other past pairings (and failed). Maybe it was better not to try too hard to make the main leads end up together or something. Yet I felt the whole throwing Yip Ting under the bus was already a stretch. Because I quite liked it that Yip Ting continued to strive forward at the end on her own. Just that the last bit to wrap up in favor of Carson and Jessica’s story made it kind of low.