Wednesday, August 26, 2009
'The Threshold of a Persona' Review
Before the release of Threshold, I didn't hold any anticipation or special expectations. It wasn't that I thought it would be bad and wouldn't watch it, but it just didn't attract me beforehand. I watch practically any series that comes out now since it's summer, and I need a past time/relaxing time when the day's almost done.
For me, I had three reasons to looked forward to watching: Roger Kwok, and his second collaboration with Yoyo Mung after Last One Standing. I wanted to see their relationship unfold in comparison to Last One Standing as Roger would once again return as the good guy. As for the plot, I figured I would just watch and see. Not having seen a modern action series since E.U., I thought it'd be nice to watch something that might actually keep me in suspense.
The three reasons that had been why I would watch the series turned out to all be disappointed...
I never thought I'd say this, but I was disappointed by Roger's performance here. He was sometimes stiff. His speech doesn't demand attention, but makes you rather tired. He just didn't bring his character to life. However, there wasn't really anything to bring to life in his character, except his two crying scenes. In the end though, it is still a solid performance. It is just not a special, memorable, or special performance for someone as versatile and talented like Roger Kwok.
Roger Kwok and Yoyo Mung's Relationship
Even though Roger and Yoyo's relationship in Last One Standing was not 'pure' with the fact that Roger was evil in his doings, their relationship still shines in comparison to Threshold. I could feel the emotions between Ah Yin and Carmen in Standing. I could feel that although Roger was evil and cunning, he cared and loved for Carmen endlessly and didn't want her to leave him. I could feel the pain Carmen felt when she learned of Roger's true character and bad deeds. In Threshold though, it was just way too quick and things were just said instead of shown for us to see. There was no room for their relationship to develop. It is only said in the last few episodes that Angel (Yoyo Mung) had a crush on Ah Kit (Roger Kwok) and they got together in the last episode after Roger Kwok's wife Ah Man (Claire Yiu) died. I do not doubt the two's acting or chemistry, but the fact that the two simply weren't given enough time to develop. They spent too much time on Roger and Claire's relationship that the quick get together of Roger and Yoyo felt so 'empty.'
Although this series is classified as 'Modern Action' it really can't be classified into any genre. Threshold lacks its own genre too much. It is anti-climatic and stays that way with the exception of the last two episodes. I wasn't expecting constant fighting, violence, or blood but I was at least expecting ACTION. I was expecting people to move around the world. Meanwhile, a majority of the time has characters worrying over their relationships. It is a laughing stock in terms of 'action' compared to TVB's previous action series E.U., which is one of 2009's finest.
Enough of my complaining about the disappointments of the series though, and let's move onto the performances and characters...
Excuse this part for being extra long, as this has quite a big cast to take note of..
Roger Kwok as Fong Tsun-Kit
Thoughts about his performance and character already stated above.
Yoyo Mung as Ah Jo "Angel"
Ah Jo/Angel is a very sweet and caring person who wants to prove that a woman can take care of herself by herself. You will easily like her and her name (I find the nam Ah Jo so cute). However, it is nothing special for Yoyo. The problem doesn't lie in her acting, it lies in the role. Yes, these roles are great and likable, but they can't show the versatility of Yoyo. Is Yoyo a versatile actress? We'll probably never know, because this is the type of character she always has. But wait, isn't she playing the villian in the new lawyer series with Fala Chen and Steven Ma that's filming right now?
Claire Yiu as "Ah Man"
Initially, I didn't like her, nor did I feel much for her. As her past was slowly revealed and one by one bad things started to happen to her, I couldn't help but pity her. Before meeting Ah Kit and moving to Hong Kong, she worked as a prostitute to make money to pay for her father's surgery. For how long? A week. However, that week scarred her for life. All she wanted was to start over and live a new and happy life. And yet, heaven just couldn't give her that. Everywhere she went, her past haunted her. When she finally met her demise, I was in tears. The sight of her being pushed off the roof to her death by Ah Yue and falling on her husband who she just reunited with was haunting.
Without Claire, there wouldn't be a plot for 'Threshold.' Her character "Ah Man" is what makes the plot go forward. She is the most important female character. You pity her so much. Claire did a good job portraying the pitable Ah Man.
Raymond Cho as Cheng Pak-Yue
It's impossible NOT to hate his character towards the middle and end. In fact, I never liked Ah Yue to begin with. Even before all the things he done wrong, I already didn't like him. He was selfish, conceited, and powerhungry. He wanted to climb up to the top of the ladder to getting a promotion, no matter what dirty little thing he had to do. Whose ever life came in danger, he didn't care, as long as he could save his own skin. It's one thing though to be selfish, it's another thing to be cold blooded. I couldn't believe that just to save himself from getting into trouble, he murdered Ah Man, who was perfectly innocent, by pushing her off the building. I hated him so much for this and wish I could just punch him, but decided to spare my computer. Watching him is so aggravating you wish he'd just die. It's mean, but it's true.
On the other hand though, this role proves how good of an actor Raymond really is. His performance is absolutely convincing, and you realize that when you start getting the urge to smack him.
John Chiang as Mak Sir
Good solid performance, but not much to say about it. Honestly, I didn't pay much attention to him. However, I did like how he gradually start caring more about his wife and son. At first, all he cared about was his job. After getting divorced (and getting back together) with his wife, he learned to become a better husband. His character had a good amount of growth. Truthfully though, I didn't care much for him.
Patrick Tang as Au Shun-Fung
"Au Shun-Fung" is a different type of character for Patrick and my favorite character in this series. He is no longer playing some 'little boy who needs to grow up" like he did in King of Snooker. Quite frankly, it's refreshing. Ah Fung is a hard working and devoted mature young adult. He has a passion for his job and overprotective of his mother and daughter. He's too good for his own good. You can't help but fall in love with him and how he just cares about everything and everyone.
I loved his relationship with his mom. He is overprotective of his mom, and bans her from doing many things like traveling to China by herself as well as drinking. Their scenes were so funny and sweet. I loved it when they bicker because you can tell they really love and care for each other and yet having them argue can't help but make you chuckle. It's too bad that after the first few episodes, scenes between Ah Fung and his mom went from limited to none. I would've loved to see more between them, especially since 'Threshold' was dragged on a bit too long anyway.
Patrick has improved a lot. It is probably the first time we've seen him in such a serious and mature role, and he pulled it off nicely. He gives his character charm and is what makes him so likable. This series is most likely to make you a Patrick fan, or make you at least not hate him anymore if you did so before. I don't see why people hate him.
Ruco Chan as "Kelvin"
"Kelvin" is one of those 'in the middle' characters. You don't hate him, yet you don't really like him either. I actually liked him, and found his character to be very interesting.
Formerly of ATV, this is Benny/Ruco's first series after returning to TVB. Out of the four younger actors/actresses in this series (Patrick, Natalie and Toby), he gave the best performance, just not the most likable character. He outshined the other three in terms of acting. He was constantly under the shadow of his dad who was the 'heroric immigration officier' whom pratically everyone know. He wanted to prove to everyone, most of all his dad, that he has ability and talent too. This led to him making a mistake however, and that led to even more mistakes, including ones that he did not intentionally do. Most of the mistakes he made leading up to his arrest were with good intention. Ruco's portrayal is very convincing and makes Kelvin come to life. Although he made so many mistakes, you pity him and feel what he's feeling through his 'dark' time. I am very impressed by Ruco and seeing him in A Great Way to Care and Burning Flame 3, two characters whom are very different from Kelvin, proves his versatility and talent. I definitely want to see more of him and think that he has a bright future ahead of him.
Natalie Tong as Yip On-Yee
On-Yee is a single and unmarried mother who became pregnant with her daughter "Sze-Sze" when she was in high school. However, she becomes much more smarter and cautious after making this mistake. Her personality is strong and independent. Unlike other young mothers, she cares for and loves her daughter very much. To her, Sze-Sze was the most important person to her. This makes her iffy towards new relationships though, such as a failed relationship with Kelvin. Unlike with other characters in series who ended up alone though, I didn't pity her. Not because I was against her character, I already stated that I absolutely loved her. I thought that her ending up alone was fitting. There is no one more important to her than her daughter, and she is the only one she needs. On-Yee is a strong, independent person, the type of person who doesn't need a man to make her happy. All she needs is Sze-Sze.
Natalie does a great job and is very charming as On-Yee. She is the one that brightens up the screen with her charm and smile. Her portrayal as On-Yee proves that she can play more than the 'innocent one' or the younger sister. Natalie improves more and more with each series she is in, and is on the way to becoming a fine young actress. She has so much potential, and this is her best character and performance so far.
Toby Leung as "Yan-Yan"
I didn't like Yan-Yan that much. I didn't hate her, I found her likable, but not as special or interesting as Kelvin, Shun-Fung, or On-Yee.
Toby delivers the worst performance of the younger four. She was not 'atrocious' or 'terrible' but she was mediocre at best. I don't like the way she talks and her emotional scenes need much improvement.
Other Notable Performances/Characters
Kenny Wong as Wu Sum
I was neutral towards Kenny. I didn't love him as much as other people did. One thing I did like him for, was his love for Ah Man. He cared for and was always there for her. If it weren't for him, Ah Man would've totally fallen apart and died much earlier. He did more for Ah Man than Ah Kit ever did. Then again, he is still a triad leader involved in criminal and illegal activities. At the end of the day, he is still 'bad.' He's just not coldhearted though. Even so, Kenny Wong pulled my heart string when he cried over the death of Ah Man, whom he loved so much.
Iris Wong as Lai-Man
I absolutely loved Iris Wong. At first, I did dislike her for taking advantage of Ah Man, but I grew to love her. She was such a funny character. I loved how she was just always talking away, or how she would always be the first one to talk in the middle of silence. It was so cute and nice of her to stand up to that 'fei jai' for Hei-Hei. Iris brings 'Wing So' to life. Without her, 'Threshold' would be completly dead. I applaud her performance.
Power Chan as Ah Lun
Ah Lun was such a good friend with a good heart. I loved how he cared for Ah Kit and Angel. The scenes where he was 'nagging' Angel to take care of herself were so sweet. It was also funny to see how in a situation he would always be the first to speak up and say something (usually something rude to the wrong party). Watching him getting hit in the head by that brick made my heart beat really fast (as well as make me hate Ah Yue even more for leaving him there). I was so afraid he'd die (as at the time I didn't know what happened to his character at the end). Power is always a strong and entertaining supporting actor underrated and underpromoted by TVB. Congrats to his upcoming marriage by the way.
-Even after watching, I still fail to see the main plot of this series. I know the theme was immigration, but what was the plot?
-I felt sorry for the illegal immigrants a lot of the time. I especially felt sorry for the man who came to work illegally in order to earn money for his ill wife. Unfortunately, he died before he could set foot in Hong Kong.
-I liked Queenie Chu here. For once, she didn't play a third party or mistress. She looked very pretty and sophisticated. She has potential, I hope she gets more roles in the future (that aren't her playing a third party of mistress).
-The Kelvin/Ah Fung/On-Yee & Ah Fung/On-Yee/Yan-Yan love triangles (or love quadrangle) is much more bearable to watch than past love triangles. Watching love triangles usually make me nuts and make me want to throw something, but this was not bad. It was actually interesting at times too, because you somewhat cared who ended up with who.
Recommended? No. It is a forgettable and unintriguing series. If you're looking for something action-packed, definitely pass as well. If you do though, it should be for Patrick, Natalie, and Iris' wonderful characters and performances.
Rating: 2 1/2 stars. The script is weak and fails to lure in the viewer. However, the supporting cast (Patrick, Natalie, Chan Chin Pang, Iris Wong, and Power Chan) are a joy to watch. I also loved watching the 'four' (Ah Fung, On-Yee, Kelvin, and Yan-Yan) before their complicated relationship issues days. Something about four friends having a bbq on the roof and talking and laughing is so relaxing to watch.