Friday, June 3, 2011

"Gun Metal Grey" Review


Many people (including me) were fooled into believing TVB was waiting until the second half of 2010 to air the series actually worth watching.  We were proved wrong, as every appealing series either disappointed or was pushed back and thus ended up not airing in 2010 at all like "When Heaven Burns".  "Gun Metal Grey" on the other hand, shines like a diamond instead of rusty metal like the title suggests against the rest of the flops this year.

Cast and Characters
Nowadays, I'm not only looking out for individual cast performances, but outstanding performances as an ensemble as well.  A factor of the series is ruined for me if the cast does not work together as a whole.  Chemistry is a must, and amongst everyone, not just on-screen pairings.  If it's forced, it doesn't work.  Fortunately, the cast of "Gun Metal Grey" has no problem creating chemistry and a comfortable and fun atmosphere.  Everyone just clicked.

Although the drama's goal was to illustrate the shades of grey of humanity by showing a police officer who was neither good or bad, the result was another portrayal of a good but misunderstood person being provoked into turning evil.  Nevertheless, it was another interesting take on the familiar TVB concept and Felix Wong gave a fantastic performance as "Stone Sir".  He was kind and warm in the beginning, yet chilling and haunting when the bad in Stone emerged.  The character "Stone Sir" was an intriguing take on a cop loosing faith in the law and taking justice into their own hands using extreme means.  Felix made the transformation seem realistic and not at all forced.  When it comes to picking a comeback series/role, Felix managed to do a much better job than other veteran actors like Gallen Lo, Flora Chan, and Kenix Kwok. 

It's been so long since I've seen Michael Miu portray a role with so much charisma!  Although Michael is one of my favorite veteran actors, I haven't thoroughly enjoyed watching him in a drama since he played "Li Sir" in "The Academy".  "Mad Sir" is funny, clever, and Miu's best character in years.  He has not seemed this fitting or comfortable in a drama for a long time.  I loved watching Mad's sweet, cute, and unconventional ways of courting Kim (Jessica Hsuan).  

While I don't find Jessica Hsuan an exceptional actress, I like how her acting is so natural.  "Kim Hui" was a very likable and endearing character as the reporter who initially had a crush on Stone but eventually fell for Mad.  I have trouble thinking of another couple with such effortless and natural chemistry like Jessica and Michael.  They are a joy to watch together.  Their scenes are not only sweet, but hilariously adorable as well.  Besides for Michael, she also worked very well with her on-screen mother, played by Mimi Chu.

Vincent Wong has shown that he is a decent actor with a good amount of potential, but has received several bad and simply unlikable characters to play.  For the first time since his acting career has started, he gets to shine as "Carson Ko".  Carson is sweet, caring, loyal, and the perfect boyfriend.  I loved watching how persistent and sincere he was in courting "Ah Sze" (played by Nancy Wu). This was Vincent's long awaited breakthrough, and it is clear he put a lot of effort and heart into his performance.  His acting has also seemed to visibly improved since his first role, the annoying "Mark" in "War of In-Laws II".  Had TVB not completely neglected this series, I believe Vincent would've been promoted more and groomed into becoming a first supporting actor or second male lead.

"Ah Sze" was slightly irritating initially, but matured and became much more likable as the series went on.  Ah Sze was tough, clever, and known for going to the gym to punch her punching bags whenever she felt stressed, sad, or mad.  Her admiration for Mad was cute and different (since it was never actually a crush).  It was sweet watching the hard headed Ah Sze initially push Carson away, yet gradually becoming touched at his care for her and slowly returning his feelings.  Nancy Wu seemed very fitting for the role, and her top 5 nomination for "Best Supporting Actress" was deserved.

Grace Wong and Oscar Leung were both great additions to Mad's "A Team".  Grace was adorable with all her different hats and her crush on Carson.  Oscar was also funny, especially with how he was constantly sleepy and yawning all the time.  Mimi Chu was hilarious as Jessica's mother.  Patrick Tang wins my "Most Surprising Performance" with his creepy and haunting portrayal of the doctor suffering from dissociative identity disorder.  He has shown lots of improvement as an actor, but unfortunately continues to be disliked for simply not being handsome.

Thoughts on the Ending *SPOILERS*

Sometimes, killing off a character is necessary for the development of the other characters and the outcome of the plot resolution itself.  Although it makes us even more sad, the script writers usually choose the most beloved character for this purpose.  It results in a heavier and more heartfelt impact on the viewers.  In this case, the beloved character was Carson.  While I understood how Carson's death was necessary for Stone to reach the apex of what he had become (a murderer), I was annoyed that the audience was never able to see him properly buried and mourned by Mad, Ah Sze, and the rest of the A Team.  Given how important he was to them, it's not possible that he was never given a proper funeral.

Stone cuffing himself to Mad to symbolize that he realized all his wrongdoings and admitting defeat was very meaningful and creative.  Him realizing who had become felt too sudden.  It had become too late for his character to just "surrender".  Nevertheless, I applaud the script writers for the symbolism.  The scene felt powerful and successfully brought the series an end to its gripping climax.

Conclusion

TVB greatly neglected this anniversary series and opted to mass promote "No Regrets" and "Can't Buy Me Love" instead.  The biased company never gave it the recognition it deserved.  Thankfully, the fans discovered this gem themselves, making "Gun Metal Grey" one of the most talked about series online.  This is another thing that makes "Grey" exceptional.  Despite the major lack of promotion, it managed to become a success on its on.
"Gun Metal Grey" doesn't have an amazing script or incredibly original storyline.  The cases were watchable and interesting enough, but it is the cast that makes it the most memorable series of the year.  I enjoyed watching each cast member alone and even more so together.  They were what turned this average series into one of the best of 2010.  "Mad and Kim" and "Carson and Ah Sze" were also my favorite on-screen couples of the year while Mad and Carson were my favorite characters of the year.  I hope this talented and bright bunch get to collaborate again someday.  Overall, the cast, characters, chemistry, humor, sweet relationships, and action make it my favorite drama of 2010.

Rating: 4 stars

7 comments:

  1. This review came about half a year too late. However, I found an unfinished draft of a review in my folder from a couple months ago and I decided to finish it. Once I started working on it again, I got really into it. Turns out that if it's a series I enjoyed watching, I'm very passionate and motivated to write. :)I haven't wrote in a long time and really enjoyed the familiar feeling of writing. Hopefully, I'll be able to stage an official comeback soon. And hopefully, I still have readers! Haha.

    ~Love, Iris

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  2. It's amusing that once I started reading your review, I knew I was more into your writing than what the actual review had to say about the character's performance, chemistry, etc. because honestly, the series had broadcasted for over half a year and my sentiments to this series has faded. I also have no intention of re-watching it unless maybe a friend drags me to watch it with them.

    I like how you described Carson's pursuit of Ah Sze as "persistent" and "sincere." Your choice of words were very precise and these were two of the characteristics that made their love story more interesting than others. It's also very ideal.

    Now that my sentiments and hype for Vincent is over (don't get me wrong, I still like Carson), I'm beginning to see the matter more objective. Sometimes we start liking the character so much that it's easy to overlook their acting. To be honest, I'm no fan of Vincent's acting and when I detach from the character, Carson, I don't have much of a comment on his acting. He's not a bad actor, fluent in Cantonese, but he's lacking some charisma.

    Michael Miu has that charisma though I felt he was better in his younger days. Maybe it's because he's losing that charming face of his as he ages.

    Personally, as a good actor, I feel that they would leave a good impression on you in most of his roles. In Vincent's case, he was really lucky to have the scriptwriters write him such a good character that the audience love and will sympathize when he dies. I feel that Oscar has it and should be promoted. Although Oscar has always been playing minor characters, he leaves a good impression and is funny in many of his roles. Grace Under Fire was a tedious drama overall, but he was very funny for a serious drama. Honestly, I didn't even know he will be in the series, but only Oscar, Fala, and Bosco will be remembered after I finished the series.

    So, yes, detaching Vincent from Carson, I'm not a fan of the actor. I instantly proved myself when I saw him in Home Troopers when he was two-timing Mandy Wong.

    I agree with most of what you said. Mimi Chu is hilarious in most of her dramas although we only see her every now and then.

    I still have to say the storyline is too average and it was only the cast and chemistry that saved the day. Am I too critical to only give it 3.5 stars? My original rating was 3, but it's really hard to see Felix and Michael in the same series these days. TVB relies too much on a good cast and neglects the storyline. And in this case, it isn't even TVB who succeeded in asking Felix partake in this; it was Michael playing his friends card with Felix and he finally agreed.

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  3. Chriselle - Aw, I'm flattered to hear you were more excited to read my writing itself. :)

    I'm glad you liked my choice of words! It's one of the reasons why I spend so much time on one specific portion of my review sometimes. I rack my brain to think of the most appropriate word that's unique without repeating myself. I am very picky when it comes to word choice. :P

    You're right about detaching him from Carson. I still like Vincent, just not as much. He's a likable enough actor. I like that he's fluent in Cantonese though, unlike a lot of other young actors these days. Quite frankly, with my ears, I need to listen to someone who is fluent in Canto and speaks clearly. I had so much trouble comprehending what Vivien was saying in WOIL II.

    I see how it would be easier to have charisma when younger. However, I find it more notable that even though Michael is now 52 years old, he has still retained most of his charisma. I remember browsing forums while GMG was airing and reading. Lots of people said that although they liked both, they preferred Mad over Carson despite his age because of his charm, haha.

    Vincent was extremely lucky to get such a good character. One of the reasons why I started liking him so much during GMG was not only because of Carson, but because the actor himself seemed to genuinely appreciate and feel grateful for the opportunity to play such a great character and work with such a talented cast. Or at least, that's the vibe I got during the time I stalked him and Nancy on Weibo, hehe. Most of that like has since died, but I still get the impression that he's serious about his career despite his crappy roles. However, I wanted to throw something at "Leo" in "Home Troopers".

    I also enjoy watching Oscar a lot. It seemed as though TVB was ready to promote him, what happened? :/ He was the initial fan favorite to win Most Improved Actor then quickly went back to his minor roles. I agree that he's funny and leaves a good impression.

    Mimi Chu is also hilarious in a subtle way, which was why I enjoyed watching her scenes with Jessica a lot. :)

    I adjusted the rating down to 4 stars. Sometimes when I write a review about a series, I become too fixated on the good in the efforts to be optimistic. As a result I end up giving it a rating I later find too high. I was going to adjust it down to 3.5, but I honestly have a bit of a bias towards the drama. It was the only drama from last year where I missed the cast and characters after I finished watching it. Yeah, I read that Michael read the role of Stone Sir and recommended it to Felix. Felix read the script, thought it was good, and finally agreed. Which is odd, because the script itself wasn't all that great. Did he predict that the cast and characters would end up having a lot of chemistry to make up for the average storyline? :P Still, an average storyline is better than a mediocre one.

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  4. It baffles me why Felix thought the script was good. He isn't a TVB managed artist and doesn't need to be obedient like many others. Charmaine has the tendency to say that a lot of scripts are good and that she doesn't want to let the opportunity slip if a good script comes to hand, but look at CBML. How did that turn out?

    Yeah, GMG script is average, with little breakthroughs. The area of grayness had potential to be developed, but TVB took a very boring stance in creating cases, which hindered in creating a better presentation of the theme. Honestly, all TVB cop dramas are always centered around case after case and while some of them are suspenseful to watch, it gets very predictable over time. For example, there are always a patient with dissociative identity disorder and over time it makes you wonder, can I be a psychologist already??

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  5. Chriselle - Sorry for the late reply. I read it when you tweeted me, but I was just too lazy to reply, haha.

    Felix probably accepted GMG more because of Michael than TVB. He had the chance to work with his old buddy and do something he hasn't done in a while. It definitely isn't because he felt obliged to TVB.

    TVB in general is just terrible in exploring the area of grayness. It would've been better if they had not advertised that GMG would specifically explore this theme. Had it just been advertised as a cop drama, it wouldn't be so bad. At the top of my head, the only recent drama I can think of that did a good job of exploring grayness was "Catch Me Now". Makes me want to rewatch it.

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  6. Always enjoy reading your review and I certainly agree that among the crap that was aired in 2010, GMG shined like a diamond. However, I attribute it more to the chemistry of the actors & actresses (like what u said) rather than the script itself. While it started off really well, it waned as it progressed.

    I hate it when TVB scriptwriters make their character change (illogically or too far-fetched)in order to fit their intended storyline. This was what happened to Felix. If u see him from the beginning, he was so different from the cold-hearted fiend at the end, and yet there wasn't any reasonable tipping point to explain this personality change. That was my major problem with the series. Otherwise, I really liked GMG.

    As for Vincent, I tend to agree with Chriselle that he's a bad and immature actor at that point, although I loved his character. I think among all the actors/actresses, he was the weakest link for this show.

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  7. Kenix Kwok is one of the best TVB actresses in the industry. Hope to see her take on a more active role like she use to. Check out 36 beautiful scans of her here.


    http://singaporetrends.com/sg/2011/12/36-beautiful-scans-of-tvb-actress-kenix-kwok/

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