I've always been fond of Natalie Tong. She's pretty, youthful, and a good actress. She has played the role of the younger sister multiple times, which is how I first started liking her. Not being a TVB fan for that long yet, I'm more familiar with newer productions. Natalie Tong first caught my attention in 2007's Life Art.
In Life Art, Natalie played Belle, Kevin's younger sister. She is at first a spoiled and selfish person. In the later part of the series, Kevin's colleague Ray accidentally throws up on Natalie while drunk. To make it up to her, Ray agrees to buy her the designer shirt she wants and do favors for her. Natalie abuses Ray's offer of making it up to her by ordering him around and making him buy her everything she wants. In the last couple of episodes, Belle develops into a nicer and less selfish person, and she and Ray become a couple.
Her performance was very cute and likable. She had great brother-sister chemistry with Kevin. The two were very convincing as brother and sister, and the few scenes they had together were very enjoyable to watch. Her subplot about her relationship with Ray was amusing and cute as well. This role, along with a few others including The Green Grass of Home led her to become one of the top 5 nominations for Most Improved Actress at that years TVB Anniversary Awards.
The Power of What a Bad Role Can Do
Although Natalie didn't win the Most Improved, fans still knew she had improved. Unfortunately, her next production after the TVB Anniversary Awards wasn't able to show that. For the first time in a while, Natalie no longer had to play the 'younger sister' in late 2007's The Building Blocks of Life.
She played the character On-Kiu, the only child of a big architect. The series started as her being a likable character. Her short lived relationship with Tai-Yip (Sam Chan) was cute. The two had an enjoyable chemistry as they were just an innocent couple full of puppy love.
Unfortunately, as the series progressed, their relationship slowly died out as On-Kiu became more annoying, rebellious, and immature. It is revealed that On-Kiu never graduated college, and had faked her diploma. Her father orders her to go back to England and graduate with a real diploma. Immaturely, she runs away with Tai-Yip. Tai-Yip at first agrees to it, and treats it as just a cooling off period. However, On-Kiu does not intend on going back, and wishes to stay with Tai-Yip and never go back. Tai-Yip, although still cares for her, does not think it is the right decision and leaves. On-Kiu is at this point has become very muddleheaded and naive, and starts to think that Brian (Power Chan) is the one she loves and the one who cares about her. Tai-yip tries to win her back, even proposing to her. His effort was all ruined, and he is left with a criminal record when Brian frames him for cutting him. She soon learns she is carrying Brian's baby, and the two agree to get married. Even after all of Brian's wrongdoings are exposed, On-Kiu still stupidly stays by his side to the end. Although some characters who do wrong things are forgivable, and deserve to be forgiven, Brian wasn't an example of the 'evil turned good.'
Natalie's On-Kiu was nothing but frustrating to watch because she supported and loved all the wrong people, and left all the ones who supported and loved her. For a time, I no longer liked Natalie because of this performance. Somehow, Natalie had pulled off the annoying role too because she was able to make her voice whiny practically the whole time. You can say, I was no longer a fan of Natalie Tong.
A Double Dose of Natalie Tong
I have recently just finished watching Just Love ll, and I'm starting to watch The Threshold of a Persona, both of which Natalie are in. As watching her in likable but two very different roles, I've quickly started to like Natalie again. To this day, she is still improving greatly, and cuter and prettier than ever.
Just Love ll
Natalie plays a prosecutor, and she does a good job. She may not be entirely convincing, but convincing enough that she sounds professional. Her role is very likable, and her subplot with magistrate CK was enjoyable. At first, I found the relationship a little awkward, and wondered why Natalie is always paired up with someone older than her. However, I grew to like them. It's nothing that would become a favorite onscreen couple, definitely not, but it is acceptable, humorous, and sweet. Of course, the relationship is not smooth sailing, and starts to fall apart. In the last few episodes, Natalie questions if she really likes CK, or if she was only being rebellious by liking someone her sister-in-law didn't approve of. She runs into the guy who framed CK of assault at a bar, who asks her to drink with him, offering her a spiked drink. Later, he books a privated VIP karaoke room for the two of them, as he was planning to rape the supposedly drunk Natalie. I worried at this point that Natalie would've once again fallen into the fate of being taken advantage of because of being naive. I was pleasantly surprised that her character had been so clever. Turns out, she had knew the drink was spiked, and switched the two drinks. She was at this point sober, while the guy drank the spiked drink and became drunk. During the time he was drunk, she sent an SMS to her sister (Casper Chan) calling for help. Before the guy (whose name I forgot) can even touch Natalie, Casper along with her boyfriend and CK come and after going to court, the guy is charged. Yay for smart Natalie!
The Threshold of a Persona
This is the newest series out, and the most different character I think I've ever seen Natalie in. She plays a unmarried single mother who became pregnant as a teen. However, her character is quite comedic. She does not let the fact bring her down. She is very independent, and does not let the fact make her feel bad. Along with her mother and older sister, she loves and takes care of her daughter, who is starting primary school soon. Although she is a person who accidently became pregnant as a teen, her character is very likable. She seems to genuinely care about her daughter "Sze-Sze" and I've yet to see her neglect her or just 'throw her away' like other pregnant teens do. She is also quite amusing, with the way she handles situations and people who she doesn't get along with. In the last episode I've watched of Threshold however, she seems to be interested in Kelvin, who is reasonably rich and full of connections. I hope that her character does not once again fall into the same fate again, and I'm hoping she is smart enough not to become pregnant accidentally again.
Bottom line, Natalie is a great actress, and I was wrong to have ever stopped liking her simply because of a bad role. However, this does prove that many artistes are bashed at and criticized for characters they play (ex. Linda Chung's Yue So-Chau). I hope that viewers of TVB series stop doing so, as many talented artistes are now being looked down on (ex. Myolie Wu).
The fact that I could see so much of Natalie in two great roles after looking down on her for her annoying role in Building Blocks was like fate. It tells us that sometimes, the problem lies in the role, and not the actor or actress. Remember that!