Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Feature : Typecast : Myolie Wu

New feature again everyone! This feature will instead of being divided into three artistes, will put the spotlight on one. Specifically, an artiste who has been 'type casted' lately. What is a typecast you may ask? It is when one gets stuck with only one type of role and is forced to portray that one type of role constantly. Typecast will put the spotlight on artistes who despite knowing how to act, are always stuck with the same boring thing.

Myolie Wu

At the age of 20, a woman named Myolie Wu Hang Yee entered the 1999 Miss Hong Kong pageant. She became the 2nd runner up, taking home the Most Energetic award. Whether you like it or not, fast foward 10 years later she has become one of our rising fa dans. Like any other rising fa dan, she's had her bumps on the road...

Her first series was 2001's Colorful Life. She later also appeared in Legal Entanglement, The Awakening Story, and At Point Blank. Although they were all small roles, all the series were released in the same year. She had a strong start in little time, which meant she would be able to rise fast. By 2002, she received more major roles in Eternal Happiness, Doomed to Oblivion, and The Family Man, all successful productions. Myolie ended the year with a bang in Golden Faith, which brought Myolie her first breakthrough. Playing the role of Yan Yan, a mental patient, the actress brought home the Most Improved Actress award that same year.

Myolie was quickly becoming a success. Right after her first breakthrough performance, she received a second. In 2003's Survivor's Law, Myolie portrayed Ling Ling, a tough, strong, but emotional lawyer. Her performance was fantastic, and she nailed all her emotional scenes. To this day, Ling Ling is Myolie's favorite role, and a huge fan favorite.

Although the roles she portrayed in the following years afterward weren't as nearly great as Ling Ling, Myolie filmed many series and developed a loyal fan base. Things brightened up even more for her...sort of.

2005's War of In Laws made Myolie one of the top 5 nominees for Best Actress that year. This unfortunately planted a vision into the series' producer Kwan Wing Chung. He loved using Myolie in his productions, and was determined to make Myolie become Best Actress. Now that could've been a good thing...too bad he gave her a bunch of crappy roles.

Producer Kwan's To Grow With Love was his first effort in his 'mission.' Myolie's role required her to gain 50 pounds. She had to gain the weight herself instead of wearing a fat suit as Producer Kwan wanted it to be as realistic as possible (which makes him one of my least favored producers, if not the one I hate the most). For the sake of her job, Myolie 'sacrificed' herself.

The sacrifice turned out to be a waste. To Grow With Love was panned by netizens and audiences. People didn't pay attention at the hard work and sacrifice Myolie put into her performance. They only thought 'this sucks.' Somehow, Myolie once again became one of the top 5 nominees for Best Actress that year. In the end though, she didn't receive the recognition she deserved.

It was after To Grow With Love that Myolie's typecast as the weak, nice girl began. When that typecast continued to live on, netizens grew tired of Myolie. They called her 'annoying' and a 'bad actress.' They were too close minded to realize that Myolie was not a bad actress, she was just getting bad roles.

In War and Destiny, The Drive of Life, War of In Laws II, The Master of Tai Chi, When a Dog Loves a Cat and Burning Flame 3, Myolie portrayed weak characters, making people annoyed with her. (Although as far as weak roles go, War of In Laws II's Chow Lai Man was one of the better. I found her cute and her emotional scenes were well done yet reasonable.) Seven similar and annoying roles made a huge negative impact in her career. She was no longer well liked. Of course, she still had her true fans and supporters by her side. They were the true fans and supporters who awaited for another breakthrough in Myolie's acting career...

2009's A Chip Off the Old Block brought Myolie her awaited breakthrough. The best part was that it was unexpected, and came out of the blue. People were surprised at Myolie's fantastic performance as So Fung Nei, a swindler who does anything for money, but only out of the care she has for her mother. The role was refreshing, hilarious, and Myolie's most unique role ever. A Chip Off the Old Block was an unexpected moderate success, and a majority of it was thanks to the portrayal of So Fung Nei.
*Credits to EverStar for character image

Myolie has always been the actress I had a lot of faith in, and I truly believe she'll have a long term career as a actress (and singer) with a big shot at becoming the next fa dan. She is one of the most versatile of her generation and has a lovable ambitious and hardworking personality. I'm even more confident with her skills after watching her performance in Chip. It had saddened me to hear that viewers were incapable of looking behind Myolie's roles and seeing the talented actress. It's relieving and reassuring to hear that Myolie has gained back a favorable impression from everyone. She has a bright future ahead of her. :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

My Better Half

English Title: My Better Half
Chinese Title: ????
Cantonese Title: Lo Gong Man Sui
Broadcast Period: February 16, 2010 – March 14, 2010
Genre: Modern Comedy
Length: 20 episodes
Producer: Tong Kei Ming
Scriptwriter: Law Chung Yiu
Cast: Michael Miu, Maggie Cheung, Michael Tse, Teresa Lee, Grace Wong, Mandy Cho

Pharmaceutical company employee CHING SUM (Michael Miu) has an overbearing wife, KO LAI SUM (Maggie Cheung). In order not to fight head-on with her, he has been playing ostrich in their seven years of marriage. LAI SUM, however, has never stopped watching his move, as she always believes he is fooling around behind her back. SUM’s younger brother, CHING YEE (Michael Tse), laughs at SUM a lot, but he also feels sorry for his plight, and gives him practical advices whenever he can. One day, SUM is caught red-handed in Shenzhen by LAI SUM, who proposes to divorce him! YEE always claims he has never lost in the game of love, until he meets MIU LING CHI (Theresa Lee), a newly recruited management staff of the company. YEE loses bitterly this time, and almost loses his job, too.

Why is it that relationship can be earth-shattering but marriage only revolves around trifles? Miu Kiu Wai plays a henpecked man for the first time ever, and Maggie acts as his bruiser wife in her powerful comeback. So make sure you don’t miss this explosively funny romantic comedy which exposes the very truth about relationships!
Comments: It's finally (almost) here! This is the series I've been anticipating for forever. We'll finally get to see the versatile Maggie Cheung make her comeback! May it be a strong one indeed. As Maggie Cheung has always been professional and picky when selecting her roles and series, I'm holding onto the hope that this will be above average. It looks funny and cute, can't wait!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Beauty of the Game Review

As the series with the worst TV ratings of 2009, little promotion, and almost no buzz, The Beauty of the Game is another one of TVB's hidden gems.

Character Analysis
*contains spoilers*

Ko Ching Man

Naive and ignorant at first, Ko Ching cannot find a job she likes and instead wants to be a 'star.' Unfortunately, her personality is not the least bit fit for the entertainment industry. She quickly becomes victims of the paprazzi (courtesy of our Paprazzi Prince, Kwok Fun played by Wong Cho Lam). She is betrayed by her 'best friend' Cally numerous times. This all causes Ko Ching to run into the arms of her mom's enemy, Chin Fung Jeh (Christine Ng). She is furious to find out Chin Fung Jeh was just putting on an act of being nice to her and was secretly scheming to turn her into another Kan Po Yee to get rid of her. Gone goes the innocent and naive Ko Ching, who as a method of 'self defense' uses the same conniving tactics to ruin Chin Fung Jeh. Eventually, she becomes worse than Cally and Chin Fung, causing her friends and family to either abandon or become angered with her. After a wake up call from her dad, Ko Ching reverts to her old self. Unfortunately, Chin Fung Jeh, who is now aware of Ko Ching's scheming, hires a man to do something to Ko Ching that will force her to quit the entertainment industry forever...or not.

Ko Ching was a well developed character. Although her change from good to bad, then back to good was quick (in the matter of an episode), it felt reasonable enough.

Having observed her rival Kan Po Yee and her down fall with drugs, it is understandable that unlike Cally, Ko Ching did not give into them. It made sense that Ko Ching's sudden change took place upon her finding out Chin Fung Jeh's intentions. If there was anything unrealistic about this change, it is that I doubt Ko Ching would've been smart enough to think of how to put on an act. She may have lost her naivety, but I doubt she lost her ignorance.

Ko Ching turning back to good was more of the 'meh' change. It was not written as well as Ko Ching's change to bad. It was still reasonable enough though. After all, slaps equal wake up calls in TVB series. How Ko Ching further woke up as a result of her face being cut made sense as well. I enjoyed her revert back to good. The scene where she goes onto the roof top to practice her emotional scenes, the scenes that she couldn't do before, was very touching.

Keung Chin Fung

As a newcomer to the entertainment industry 20 years ago, she was bullied by Lai Heung Jeh (Kingdom Yuen), Ko Ching's mother. After Lai Heung is forced to retire, Chin Fung rises to the top. Although Lai Heung has turned a new leaf, Chin Fung has not abandoned her cheating and scheming ways so many years later. Instead, she bullies Ko Ching as she enters the industry to take revenge. Feeling vulnerable to young newcomers like Ko Ching and Cally, she does everything to hold on to her Best Actress title.

Although all the 'good' things Chin Fung did for Ko Ching was all an act, I wonder if she ever felt the slightest pity or care towards her. One particular scene that stood out to me was the one where Ko Ching is crying outside of TVB studios in the rain, and Chin Fung watches her from her car with a sad looking expression. Did she feel sorry for Ko Ching, feeling like she related to Ko Ching when she was a newcomer? Just the slightest bit?

It's obvious Chin Fung was conniving. It was obvious she was posessive of "her" Best Actress award. But was she (literally) crazy? No. The last episode where Chin Fung takes Ko Ching up to the roof top to try to kill her as a way of keeping her from getting the Best Actress award was unreasonable and out of her character. Look where that got her. Then again, I'm probably just over thinking things.


Kate Tsui - Ko Ching Man

I see what Kate meant when she had said this role was her most challenging yet. The role of the developed Ko Ching was definitely a character hard to play, but I couldn't feel Kate's effort. It may be a huge improvement from before, but it still falls short and continues to remind me she is not leading material. Her performance is a roller coaster that goes from over acting to under acting. The roof top scene I mentioned above was one of the scenes I believed she did a much better job in though. One thing I noticed about Kate though was that although she can do some scenes well, her eyes are 'dead' like fellow TVB artiste Ron Ng.

Christine Ng - "Keung Chin Fung"

Better performance than Kate, but not as great as Kingdom's. She did well as the villain, despite Keung Chin Fung not being an easy character to portray. The scenes where Chin Fung's excessive use of Botox went wrong were realistically done too.

Sharon Chan - "Tong Ho Yee/Cally"

I was probably most disappointed with this character/performance. That goes to show you shouldn't ever get your expectations too high. I had expected Sharon's first portrayal of a villain and drug addict to be her much delayed breakthrough. Not only did the character turn out not to be a villain after all, Sharon's performance was just average. Sharon however has never looked more beautiful.

Kingdom Yuen - "Cheung Lai Heung"

If this series didn't get such poor ratings and the year wasn't just starting, Kingdom would have my vote for Best Supporting Actress. Taking a break from her quirky and hilarious characters, Kingdom wows me with this particular drama performance. With her flawless acting, I felt the most pity for Lai Heung Jeh, even shedding a couple tears for her. After seeing the scene on the roof top with Kate, I am craving to see Kingdom in an ancient series as the villain. What haunting and convincing acting!

Chris Lai Lok Yi - "Deacon"

As TVB doesn't seem to wish to promote Chris as their next male lead, I don't see why he landed this role anyway. Since this series was focused on the women anyway, he didn't have a lot of screen time anyway. Other than yelling "cut" and being the love interest of Kate and Sharon, Chris didn't have much to work with. My fondness for the actor has been decreasing a lot lately, his on screen prescence feels rather dull. In fact, the only reason I ever became fond of him in the first place was because of his overexaggerative but adorable character in Speech of Silence, in which he made a cute couple with Elaine Yiu. I've yet to enjoy a performance of his since.

Stephen Huynh - "Tom Tom"

Unlike Chris, my like for Stephen increases with each series I watch instead of the opposite. In the past year, the actor has finally started to improve. However, I'm a little confused about his character. In the first episode, it is hinted Tom Tom is either gay or feminine. In the following episodes, he appears completely normal with a crush on Cally.

Wong Cho Lam - "Yuen Kwok Fun"

The short actor may be exaggerative, but I still enjoy his on screen presence. Not to mention, he is one of the only in his generation who is so good at saying his lines so quickly and accurrately. While the height difference makes it appear awkward, Cho Lam and Mimi were cute and enjoyable to watch.

Chemistry. There was none. Like the acting, the chemistry disappointed too. Then again, it was expected. Lai Lok Yi does not have chemistry with Kate or Sharon.

Entertainment Industry. Who doesn't enjoy the juicy world where most of our gossip and rumors come from? The theme was interesting and refreshing. In fact, it was amusing and fun to watch TVB portray themselves. It was practically TVB's own satire of themselves...

Drug Abuse. Although not as interesting as watching the entertainment industry unfold in this entertaining series, the drug abuse theme was still smart. It was effective in showing the consequeneces of taking drugs. Hopefully, it managed to reach out to some rebellious teenagers.

Pace. For once, I was able to watch a series where the pacing was just right. There were no draggy parts or unnecessary scenes. It did not feel rushed. Everything served a purpose. However, I wouldn't have minded if the series was a bit longer. This would've allowed everything to develop more.

Plot Left Hanging. The sub plot with To Teng (Evergreen Mak) was never solved. Did his wife divorce him? We don't know. Whether or not Chin Fung Jeh and To Teng got together again was never revisited. For a character I had thought would make a big impact on the main plot and characters in the end, there was much left desired.

Script. Acting can not save a bad script. However, a good script can save bad acting. It's no mystery that the acting for this series was just mediocre. Although not flawless, it is one of the scripts I've felt most for in a while.

Expectations. I'm relieved that all the anticipation I had for the series was not killed in the end. It met my expectations, maybe even surprassed them. Perhaps I was not disappointed because Beauty was not a hyped up series, just a series I was anxiously waiting for.

Theme. Hands down, my favorite theme song of the year. It is a beautiful ballad, and Denise has a wonderful voice. I'm so happy that this song was not given to Kate to sing.

Recommended? Definitely. Just not for fantastic acting, with the exception of Kingdom Yuen.

Rating: 4 stars