Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"Bottled Passion" Review

Premodern dramas and romance dramas are my two least favorite genres.  Just by the genre, I should've hated "Bottled Passion".  However, due to great pacing, script, and acting, "Bottled Passion" ended up not only being an exception, but one of my favorite series of the year.

The Acting

Raymond Wong delivers the most captivating performance of the year as "Tung Boon-Sin".  He was charming in his scenes wooing the Ko sisters.  Unlike many other female viewers though, I didn't feel swooned by his magic tricks and odd antics in courting them.  Perhaps it's because I prefer sincerity over charm, but I was much more moved by his earnest love for Tsui Sum.  His subtlety yet realism in portraying his emotional and crying scenes made me want to tear up myself.  They proved that less is indeed more.  On a more superficial note, Raymond looked very handsome here in his long jackets and suits.

I don't understand the criticism for Niki Chow being the worst actress ever.  She has a limited amount of facial expressions, but exerts a very endearing innocence and sweetness.  The character of Tsui Sum also called for her to cry a lot.  Due to the sad nature of the drama, she probably had to cry at least once an episode.  While Niki doesn't shed many tears, she shows the appropriate amount of sadness and pain.  In this case, this was good enough for me.  If I had to watch someone like Tavia Yeung cry as much as Tsui Sum did, I'd probably go nuts, no matter how realistic and emotional her crying is.

Elaine Yiu did a great job with the staring and sneering, but still wasn't too likable.  Katy Kung has a lot of potential as an actress, but her character was extremely irritating to watch.

Other notable performances include Eric Li, Claire Yiu, and Jack Wu.

Eric Li is one of those actors who is capable of giving a memorable performance no matter how unlikable his character is.  Lucky for him, this underrated actor was able to portray a likable and funny character here.  I enjoyed watching the friendship between him and Raymond.  Sadly, I don't think he'll be getting promoted anytime soon.

Claire Yiu has been stuck playing some terrible roles lately, but I surprisingly loved her here.  She was hilarious as the talkative and loud mouthed wife.  She could've easily been annoying, but Claire somehow makes her an entertaining character to watch.

Although boring at times, Jack Wu does well as the kind hearted doctor who loved Tsui Sum.  A decent actor who can emote, I'm surprised Jack has been stuck playing small roles for so long.  This is the most significant role of his I've seen in a while.

Rebecca Chan also showed some vicious acting here as the villain.

The Script
The first two episodes start off quite slow, but fast paced afterwards.  Almost each episode ends with a cliffhanger.  It is entertaining to watch and I found myself surprised at how fast each episode seemed to pass.  For once, the tragic love story was done right.

The Ending
I didn't expect a happy ending for Tsui Sum and Boon-Sin, but Raymond and Niki had so much chemistry I wished it would work out.  They were so passionate and sweet.  After watching 20 episodes of the two trying to find their way back to each other, I couldn't help but hold onto the hope that Boon-Sin was still alive all the way until the end credits started to roll.  Despite that, Tung Boon-Sin's death is fitting due to the nature and genre of the drama and makes their tragic love story memorable.

However, I still have many complaints about how his death was executed.   First off, why was the city square, which is usually bustling with people, completely empty except for one passerby in broad daylight?  Second, if Boon-Sin had enough energy to hobble all the way to the river and get on a boat, surely he could've walked to the hospital.  Silly Boon-Sin.  You could've easily lived happily ever after with Tsui Sum.

After the first two episodes, "Bottled Passion" is a captivating and entertaining drama about two lovers. I normally turn away anything premodern or romance driven, but this was a wonderful exception due to the acting, script, and pacing.  It deserves all the glowing praise it's been getting and Raymond Wong is already one of my picks my Best Actor this year.  I am very satisfied with the ratings it raked in for the finale despite its terrible time slot.  Unlike many other series I watched or tried to watch this year, this is one of the few that didn't make me feel like I wasted my time.  The highlights of the series however are still definitely Raymond and Niki.

Rating: 4 stars


  1. I tend to not be surprised when reading your reviews since we usually have had a thorough discussion on the series while we're watching it already. :) Pretty much everything in your review is agreed, but I have to say that Jack was pretty boring for me. Because Yuen Yau-Hin was such a nice guy and Jack is a decent actor, these flaws were overlooked. It was more of the scriptwriter's fault too.

    I think you pretty much know how I feel about this series since we've discussed it already and you've read my thoughts regarding it. Definitely a great way to end this year, haha. :)

  2. Yeah, I noticed we really are no longer surprised by each other's reviews. Yuen Yau-Hin was a bit boring, but a good contrast to the rest of the Ko family. At the least, he was kindhearted and thoughtful instead of just plain unrealistically good/angelic.

    At least TVB was able to give us one more good series before the new year. :)

  3. Hi there, Iris! Nice to meet you!

    I actually stumbled across your review (and blog) unexpectedly -- haven't had a chance to check out your blog in detail yet, but will definitely take a look when I have time!

    Anyway, just wanted to let you know that as a fellow "Bottled Passion" fan, I enjoyed your review alot -- it hit all of the main points (most of which I agree with) in a concise format (in comparisons, my review was a bit too long...LOL).

    Without a doubt, this was the Best Series of the year for me as well!

    Lastly, if you're interested in reading my review on the series or comparing notes, I've included the link below.

    Talk to you later!


  4. Hello llwy12, nice to meet you too! Always a pleasure seeing new people comment.

    Hope to see you comment on some other posts and continue reading my blog. :)

    Thanks! I try to voice my opinion while being concise.

    I read your review. Your love for the series shows! I agree that it is too long though. Here's a tip if you welcome writing advice: If really necessary to summarize a character, write a small paragraph. For people who've already watched it, they already know what happened. For people who haven't watched it, don't give too much away. This makes it unnecessary to summarize so much. However, always be welcome to do so if you are analyzing!

    Thanks for the comment! It's nice to see someone else still enthusiastically blogging about TVB.

  5. @Iris: Hi there! Thanks for responding! I will definitely check out some of the other posts when I get a chance (hopefully soon...LOL)!

    Thanks for the writing advice! I welcome all types of feedback, whether it's about the content of my posts, writing style, translations, etc., as it definitely helps me grow as writer. I actually do detailed reviews like this on purpose -- partly for analysis but also partly for discussion's sake with certain readers...but of course, it also depends on the amount of time I have and how I feel about a particular topic too! :-)

    Anyway, glad to meet another serious TVB blogger -- hope to see you around often!

  6. Niki Chow is thr worst actress ever!!Cant cry and not even pretty.Just a look of any ordinary girl

  7. Is she really an actress?

  8. Agreed!!The Series got runied by Nikki

  9. Anonymous and Jannie - Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but there's no point in getting so worked up. If you don't like her, move on. Don't bother wasting your time bashing someone you claim to hate. Also, the fact that these three comments were posted in barely a minute's time hints to me it's the same person.

  10. This series is a great surprise for me as it's also a combination of my 2 most hated genre: premodern and tragedy. Yet it turned out that I marathoned through it as I couldnt stop. It was great ..... until the last ep.

    I am a Niki fan and love her shows. I find her acting adequate although I thought she and Raymond lacked the intensity of the supposed bottled passion. Raymond as an actor is of course v competent but I thought he was a bit old for niki. I really enjoy watching how he charmed the 2 sisters.

    For me, I thought it was a disappointment that Eric's character didn't have more screen time or was better developed. Unlike many reviewers, I didn't find Jack's character boring at all but fitted in the story well.

    Ok now I really have to sleep!

  11. Queen_owl - We should just delete the last episode from our memories, haha.

    I thought Niki and Raymond still had great chemistry and captured the sweetness and purity of their love, though I agree they lack the intensity. Then again, most TVB couples can't seem to do that.

    Eric's role was supposed to be small since he usually plays minor supporting roles anyway. His character was an unexpected hit with audiences though. :) I loved him here too. I liked Jack but didn't love him and found Eric more lovable.

  12. "Then again, most TVB couples can't seem to do that."
    Agree. But not all kinds of show needs that kind of intensity though. i thought this one should have. one couple just struck my mind. Wayne & Sheren in NR. intense!

    "I liked Jack but didn't love him and found Eric more lovable."
    Me too!


  13. Good point. A couple in a lighthearted drama wouldn't need such intensity. I still liked the subtle love between Raymond and Niki, but the passion wasn't too present.

    Hope to see Eric in more major and likable roles! :)

  14. I really enjoy this series! I hope Niki and Raymond get to pair up again! She wasn't that bad in this series, it might seem that way because Raymond was just really good in here lol! He outshine his partner.

    1. Haha, of course, Raymond just outshined everyone here. :) Good to see another person enjoyed the series and pairing!