Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Survivor's Law Review

A drama revolving around the lives of four lawyers, this is one of the highlights of 2003. Not to mention, it scored Raymond Lam the "Most Improved Actor" at the TVB Anniversary Awards that year. It was during 2001-2003 time period that the actors and actresses that dominate TVB today, first appeared. While they usually played supporting, recurring, or short cameos, the main cast of "Survivor's Law" consisted of all younger generation/newcomer actor/actresses: Raymond Lam, Myolie Wu, Sammul Chan, and Bernice Liu. This has become to be known as an irreplaceable cast, all performing greatly or decently. For relatively newcomers at the time, they all did outstanding.

Characters and Performances

Raymond Lam - Ben
Most likely your favorite character, without a doubt my favorite, he's hilarious and brings most of the comic relief. He is positive, helpful, and never gives up on his friends. When it comes to being a lawyer, he is the only one that enters the court completely clear minded and doesn't let his personal life get in the way of his cases. However, he is smart enough to only defend cases he believes in, and would never defend someone he doesn't believe did the right thing. He can be quite pitiful because everyone tends to put the blame him for things he didn't do.
After watching Raymond portray Ben, it is no wonder he won "Most Improved." He outshines everyone else, and brought his character to life. You will without a doubt enjoy watching him. For everyone that doubted he could act, or at least act out a character that's not a rich man's son, you've been proven wrong. When the day comes where TVB completely crashes and burns because of all the terrible new actors/actresses, he'll join the small circle of people who will save TVB. Raymond is so lovable and sweet as Lok Bun/Ben.

Myolie Wu - Ling Ling

Ling Ling is smart, clever, and strong. Although she is very capable when it comes to defending in court, she can let her personal problems get in the way of doing her best. At times, she can be very emotional, which affects her performance in court. Growing up with her parents always taking care and doing everything for her, she later moves in with Jessica and her aunt Angela to become more independent.

For a young actress under 30, she is a very versatile actress. She did very well in her role, and nailed all the crying and emotional scenes. Not once did she over exaggerate. Her chemistry with Raymond was very sweet. Along with Raymond, she joins the small circle of younger generation actors/actresses that can act. However, TVB needs to stop giving her the same roles. Since Survivor's Law, Myolie has constantly been given weak characters. Ling Ling is Myolie's best character and performance to date, and I have complete confidence in her that she will become one of TVB's top fa dans.

Sammul Chan - Vincent

He is first seen as extremely intelligent and a gentleman, but he later turns from bad to good. After making a mistake that makes his relationship with Ling Ling turn sour, he puts the blame on Ben and devotes himself to giving him a hard time. This eventually makes him blinded by revenge. At this point, he is selfish, power hungry, and not afraid to use others to get what he wants. Although the most capable of the four, he starts defending for criminals simply to get back at Ben, despite the disgust of his colleagues. In the end, karma hits him hard, and he realizes all his mistakes, but not before making the ultimate one. Although he is the least like able, somehow I found him to be the most intriguing to watch, from his transformation from good to bad, back to good.

I don't like the character Vincent, but I love Sammul, and believe he's very versatile and talented. He's convincing as the selfish, power hungry guy and portrayed his transformation from good to bad, to good again very well. You will hate Vincent, but like Sammul for doing so well in a role that was not easy to play. This being an older performance by Sammul though, you will notice that at the time he did not put all his emotion and heart into acting like he does today. He also was not very good at communicating with his eyes yet.

Bernice Liu - Jessica
Geeky, slow, but sweet and optimistic. She appears quite dumb, and is the least capable lawyer of the four. Her intentions are good, and she always sticks up for people. Sometimes, she seems to live in a fantasy world, thinking everything and everyone is good. She also can have ridiculous ideas of love. From beginning to end, she is in love with Vincent, and even after making so many mistakes she still supports him. Despite being slow and dumb, she is great at tai kwon do, which is how she protects herself and her friends.

Just two years into her career at the time, Bernice was not yet experienced. She was still wooden and unnatural. Still, she was able to pull off the geeky look. However, her crying and emotional scenes were done poorly, but her character didn't call for her to do those often. That's why, in the end I didn't mind that too much. If anything, I found myself more annoyed with how dumb Jessica could be at times than Bernice herself.

Extended Cast Performances

Ying Kwan - Homer

Recently, he has been getting many roles as either evil villains in ancient series, or unfair bosses in modern series. In fact, every drama I had ever seen him in before "Survivor's Law," he had played one of those two roles. I finally see him in a good role, and really, he is very funny. His reactions and schemes to get Angela off his back were hilarious. Got stinky feet, Homer?

Juno Mak - Ah Leng

In his only appearance onscreen, Juno as the 'office boy' was the perfect touch to complete Survivor's Law. From his reddish/orangeish hair, to being the only one in the office wearing jeans, to always putting his feet up on the table, Juno always managed to get a couple of laughs and chuckles out of us. His crush on Jessica was also cute.

Helen Tam - Money Je

With her short hairdo, pointy glasses, unusual voice, and quick wit, Money is as special as her name suggests she is. I really have to hand it to the people who play these 'weird' characters. Yes, they're not 'pretty' but they're refreshing and funny. Helen was hilarious and unique.
The Quadrangle
TVB quits its usual annoying 'love triangles' by making it a 'quadrangle.' The outcome, not so bad. It gives the series a certain twist. In fact, if you didn't have any background information (ex. you didn't read any summaries or synopsis), then you probably wouldn't know who were the couples. Everyone in the beginning had scenes with each other and they all got along very well, becoming great friends. As usual though, the four do not just stay 'friends.' They all start to develop feelings for the other, and the 'quadrangle' emerges. Raymond Lam and Myolie had a lot of chemistry, but I didn't get any interest watching Sammul and Bernice. It quickly become annoying that Bernice was so in love with Sammul, and I find it hard to believe that Sammul would just suddenly 'like' Bernice in the final few minutes of the series.
The Cases
The cases, although very short, were done finely, and so were the court scenes. Raymond, Myolie, and Sammul were very convincing as lawyers. I exclude Bernice from having a good lawyer presence only because it was her character that did poorly in court, and I think that Bernice would've been able to be an average lawyer. I think Sammul made the most convincing lawyer because he had excellent speaking skills, being able to talk slowly, loudly, and put emphasis. It was too bad "Vincent" abused his talent as a lawyer. The court scenes were handled professionally, unlike in the sequel. In court, you have to be serious and not let your emotions get in the way of your actions. In "Survivor's Law 2," they tried to deliver humor in the court scenes, which probably wasn't the best way they could go.
The Humor
Perhaps the original Survivor's Law is more beloved partly because of it's humor. It's a return to the good old times where simple but witty dialogue was still used. It was the little things that counted in this series, because you were able to chuckle every now and then. There are bits and pieces that are very funny. Meanwhile, although the sequel was also funny at times, it was the rather exaggerated or tried too hard to be funny.
The Perfect Ending
Instead of a tragedy, TVB decides to deliver us with a happy ending, making it "Survivor's Law" a satisfying watch all the way, instead of having it sadly ruined in the last few minutes. The ending was a little cheesy, yet very cute. After Raymond/Myolie and Vincent/Jessica finally get together, they ride around on their heelys together. The last shot has the four of them jumping up into the air, and the end credits roll. One of the cutest endings ever.
Now if you're like me, and have just recently watched "Survivor's Law," you'll recognize some old 'fads' being promoted in the series. In other words, look at their Heelys! I remember Heelys being so widely popular with kids during this time, but pretty soon they faded, and I haven't seen them since. Heelys became popular around this time, so it's obvious that they helped sponsored TVB for this series. Now, I doubt Heelys were sold in adult sizes, but having the four young adults riding around on them was definitely cute. And if they didn't lend TVB a few extra large pairs of Heelys, how would they ever be promoted?
Last Comments
Great acting by the people who were at the time newcomers, and now today's biggest stars. The series was very enjoyable, because it is one of the few series that combined drama, comedy, and romance well. Although a lawyer series, it without a doubt delivered in the comedy apartment as well, without trying so hard to be. With the comical Ben, you couldn't help but laugh at the silly things he sometimes did, or the silly things that happened to the characters outside of court. Definitely recommended, it is one of my favorite series.
Rating: 4 3/4 stars

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