Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Fistful of Stances Review

A Fistful of Stances is addictive and engaging. The pacing and length are just about right. It shares the same "formula" as Moonlight Resonance, but I managed to not mind much at all.


Practically all the characters bear similarities with those in Moonlight Resonance, but they're developed better and more likable. While Moonlight had two well developed and complex characters (Cho Pa and Sa Yi), Fistful has better overall characterization. Each and every single character is developed either well or decently. In other words, Fistful took what Moonlight had and made it better. I guess second time's the charm. For a more in depth look at the similarities of the characters in the two series, read here.


Yuen Qiu - "Au Yeung Wai Lan"

With her impressive kung fu and seemingly natural tough nature, Yuen Qiu portrayed the lovable strong yet caring mother well. Kind of puts Lee Sze Kei's portrayal of the ridiculously angelic "Hor Ma" to shame doesn't it?

Kenneth Ma - "Koo Yu Tong"

Having always been a good actor, Kenneth rarely receives interesting roles that have the ability to showcase his talent. That can't be said anymore however, because "Koo Yu Tong" is a complex and lovable character. He is uneducated yet clever, serious yet playful, silly yet hardworking, as well as determined and caring. His character is the most realistic, entertaining, and lovable. Kenneth brings the character to life, making me love him even more. This is probably his best role (and performance) to date.

Kevin Cheng - "Koo Yu Cheung"

Kevin is supposedly the male lead of the series, yet he is out shined by Kenneth. Despite the fact he has been acting for around ten years, Kevin still doesn't seem to have the passion or talent. His emotional scenes are poorly done with a half hearted effort. It was extremely hard for me to pity his character when he first appeared because honestly, these scenes made me cringe like crazy. It's obvious that while Kevin is now 41 years old, he still looks very young. Too bad that handsome face of his can't seem to express anything. Koo Yu Cheung was initially insecure, upset, confused, and just plain lost. Kevin however, made it seem like Ah Cheung simply had a bad temper.

Selena Li - "Wing Chi Ching"

No matter what, Selena always exerts that sweet and adorable charm of hers. Out of all the current fa dans, I must say Selena is one of few who portrays their emotional scenes the best. While I didn't spot many tears in her crying scenes, at least I know she's portraying the crying naturally instead of using the aid of eye drops. Kate and Shirley, you might want to learn something from her. The scenes where she's working as a doctor at the hospital and dealing with Koo Yu Tong as her patient were adorable. She and Kenneth have so much chemistry!

Natalie Tong - "Ying Ngan Ming"

It was a smart move on TVB's side to give Natalie a significantly larger role than she's received in the past. I've always thought she has a lot of potential as an actress, and she was able to prove so with her portrayal of "Ah Ngan." Her emotional scenes weren't done all that bad either. I found the portrayal of the trauma she went through after getting raped was quite realistic. I was also cheering for her when she stood up for herself. Natalie is very cute, and surprisingly has chemistry with Kevin despite the age difference. This is probably because the two have collaborated as brother and sister twice.

Dominic Lam - "Wing Tak"

Why Wing Tak was so keen in making life difficult for the Koo family was unreasonable and never really justified. Dominic delivers a solid performance, as he is convincing as the selfish and self absorbed villain. The fact that Wing Tak never admitted nor believed he did anything wrong and yet hung himself the day before his execution cracks me up. I thought Wing Tak was simply evil and stubborn, but I guess he was a coward at heart. *sarcasm*

Jacky Heung - "Wing Man Kwan"

Is Jacky Heung the newest kung fu "bad boy"? Upon finding out more about him, I saw that most of his past movies are all kung fu flicks. The new actor will also be filming Female Fist alongside the Olympic kung fu gold champion, John Chiang, and Kenneth Ma. While his acting is not all that great, he has the look to make his portrayal of the immature bad boy more convincing. Something about his voice bothers me though, and it seems unfit for his appearance somehow. It was still touching to see Man Kwan turn good, and I must admit it is probably my favorite part of the finale.

Angela Tong - "Chow Fong Fong"

There's something else I'd like to admit, and that is the fact that I adored Angela's character and performance. Some would probably find her annoying, but I actually loved her. She was so cute when arguing with her husband and forbidding him from doing kung fu. She even put up a sign in her company saying that no one can perform, talk about, or even mention anything relating to kung fu. Her relationship with Leung Cham (Ram Chiang) was cute and hilarious. It was sad to see Fong Fong mourn over the sudden death of her husband, especially with the regret she had for not making up with him. I enjoyed seeing her fall back up again and doing everything she could do to expose Wing Tak's wrongdoings. However, I found the times she called Wing Tak "Chicken Face" to be extremely unnecessary. Come on, it almost cost Fong Fong her life.

Ram Chiang - "Leung Cham"

I've always loved Ram Chiang as a supporting actor and he always manages to make me laugh. This series was no exception although his character was nothing too special. Like I said above though, he was so cute with Angela. His sudden death made me sad and this makes it the second series where Ram had a good character but died out of nowhere after Beyond the Realm of Conscience. I see how it was necessary for the finale though.

Stephen Wong - "Koo Yu Yan"

Stephen might be tall and quite cute sometimes, but he doesn't have what it takes to be a solid supporting actor. His emotional scenes still make me cringe. There doesn't seem to be much improvement from his performance in 2007's Steps.

Alex Lam - "Koo Yu Leung"

How tall is Alex? He's so short! Nevertheless, he is a decent actor. He exaggerates at times, but he is so much easier to watch than Stephen despite not being handsome.

Shirley Yeung - "Koo Yu Kuen"

I'm actually surprised Shirley had so little screen time. Her "status" with TVB is falling quicker than Ron's. Then again, I'm relieved. She constantly screams all her lines in all of her performances. I couldn't find the difference between Shirley's portrayal of "Ah Kuen" and "Ah Fun" in A Chip Off the Old Block, except for hair and costume.
Nancy Wu - "Chow Bing Bing"
I was expecting more from the character, but Bing Bing made no impact on the overall plot whatsoever. She gave Ah Ngan a hard time, got dumped by Ah Cheung, then disappeared. This role brought no justice to Nancy's talent.

Tavia Yeung - Young "Au Yeung Wai Lan"

All I have to say is: TVB, just because Tavia is very good at crying, it doesn't mean you should force her to cry in all her scenes.


I wasn't impressed with A Fistful of Stances when I first started. The flashbacks were necessary to foreshadow the plot, but were boring. It was a big 'sob story.' While I appreciate that they went with the 'show, not tell' method, I would've preferred that they didn't waste so much time with them. Flashbacks are cool, they give you a taste of what the characters were like before, but TVB always goes overboard with them. I continued to be not impressed when "Koo Yu Cheung" was introduced. Yes, he was pitiful, but it's frustrating to see a character throw a big tantrum. The series first started intriguing me after Koo Yu Cheung started settling into the Koo family after his kidnapper/adoptive mother's death. The family at that point was reunited and the plot finally started to develop. Fistful's turning point was definitely the rape of Ah Ngan. (The rapist was potrayed by Eric Li, who gave a very convincing and rather haunting performance!) The family's chemistry (as well as Ah Ngan's blooming friendship and crush on Ah Cheung) finally came full circle. From then on, the series flew by. The pace after episode 8 is very fast and very addictive.

Overall Thoughts

A Fistful of Stances is clearly a Moonlight Resonance rip off. However, it's hard to hate the series for it because it took everything Moonlight had and made it better. All the ridiculous bickering was toned down. The issues dealt with the Koo family were much more tragic than the silly problems dealt with in Moonlight. Fistful, in my opinion, holds many more merits. It ties together drama and comedy much better. While some family scenes were included, they didn't occur as often and were not as forced. There weren't a bunch of family scenes included just for the sake and fun of it. Fistful is engaging, addictive, and definitely one of the better series of 2010.

Rating: 4 stars


  1. the review i've been waiting for!! (:

    thanks so much, it was a great read! and i'm the first to comment!!

    with this review, i'm 101% certain that this is the next TVB series on my list! no doubt about it now!

  2. i wasn't harboring any hope or expectations at all when i first started on it. the first few episodes were quite a bore. however, like you said, at a certain point, it became addictive and i began chasing it! for me the most irritating characters were shirley yeung (yes forever screaming her lines) and kevin cheng. i give it 3.5 stars. :)

  3. kRysTaL~ - Glad you're always there to read my work and comment. :)

    queen_owl - Haha, nice to see our opinions on the series are so similar. :D

  4. Kevin's been acting for over 10 years???!! His acting looks like he just got picked up at the mall. His portrayal of the father is descent and lovable- but the son is a whole different story. You're right, in the beginning, he just seemed like a big dumb guy with a bad temper- even his love for his step mother seemed forced. I fast forward all of "his" scenes. As the eldest brother, he always looks confused when he's SUPPOSED to be upset. He also does that thing where he pouts his lips to make them look thicker. Just like in Last One Standing, when he's supposed to be crying, he just stares blankly with his mouth wide open. He was more of a supporting character than the main one to me. I hope TVB stop putting him in so many dramas.

  5. Anonymous - Kevin has been acting for well over 10 years but his career didn't start to pick up until 2002. Everything about his performance in the series was forced. His portrayal of the father wasn't too bad, but there wasn't much to the role. IMO, he was great in LOS, just not in his emotional scenes. He can't do those whatsoever. I'm so glad Kenneth got the chance to be lead over Kevin. :)

    Sadly, Kevin will not ever stop being put in so many dramas. And as long as Amy Wong's around, we'll keep seeing him. Amy LOVES Kevin and uses him in practically all her productions.