Friday, December 25, 2015

"Captain of Destiny" Review

I had originally dropped "Captain of Destiny" after five episodes on the first try, but after having a few friends tell me it gets better, I decided to give it another shot. Next thing I knew, I had binge watched the rest in four days.

After a slow and rough start that makes "Captain" seem like much more of a joke than it really turned out to be, it develops into one of the better and most entertaining series of the year. Unfortunately, by then, most viewers had already tuned out, as evidenced by its low ratings.

Cast-wise, it is easily understood why people were hesitant and turned off by the decision to cast Grace Chan as the female lead and Tony Hung as the titular "Cheung Po Tsai."

Grace can get very irritating as "Wong Tai-Mui" with her widening eyes and love for screaming her lines, particularly in the early episodes. She does tone down more as the series goes on and becomes much more bearable as the focus shifts more to Ruco Chan. Do I still think she has potential? Sure, but it was definitely too early for her to receive a lead role. I thought she was quite natural in "Raising the Bar," and although she has a stronger and more assertive character here, her acting seems to have even retrograded a bit. Wong Tai-Mui could still be likable overall, but I especially disliked her whenever she was so quick to think the worst of the 11th prince. I understand having hesitations, but how about not blatantly accusing someone of framing or murdering someone without getting any information first? Aren't you supposed to be a cop?

I am genuinely surprised by the criticism Tony received for his performance here, even though the harshest criticism was mostly directed towards Grace. As much as I like Tony as a host and ove
rall person, I had huge concerns for him coming into this series. However, I thoroughly enjoyed him as "Cheung Po Tsai" once we got past the silliness of the first few episodes. Tony was able to use his real-life playfulness and easygoing personality to play the titular character with humor and fun. His emotional scenes are unsurprisingly more raw, but the only scene I felt was particularly weak was one in the later part of the series where he confronts Ruco's character from jail. In the end, I'm not sad that Raymond Wong had to pull out of the series, but happy with the way things turned out for Tony. I'll probably receive some flack for this, but I finished this series thinking he did indeed deserve the Most Improved Actor award.

Ruco's role was increased to pick up the slack that came with casting less experienced actors such as Grace and Tony, and of course, he once again rises to the challenge. He nails the "stern but kind" role, where he was much more domineering and intimidating in the beginning before softening to become the passionate and intelligent 11th prince we loved. Timing-wise, I did think this was the right year for Ruco to win Best Actor. But even as the huge Ruco fan I am, even I must admit that solely performance-wise, this character was not a challenge for him and did not provide him with new material. I was however slightly surprised by his performance as the Bandit King, "Bowie." He needs to play another one of these baddie characters!

The rest of the cast performances are a mixed bag. Joel Chan and Mandy Wong may have been third supporting characters who didn't appear until almost halfway through the series, but they were both very entertaining and unpredictable, which is hard to come by with TVB's trite love trianKelly Fu's acting is still raw with a lot of room for improvement, but she surprisingly did not ever annoy me much. While she was overly naive and kept accidentally getting into trouble in the beginning, I came to appreciate her and Otto Chan's loyalty and confidence in Ruco, and how the three really became friends. Maggie Shiu was enjoyable and a reliable supporting actress as usual. Ocean Zhu's character was just plain weird and could have been eliminated. I ended up being most disappointed by Elaine Yiu's performance having already known she received the Best Supporting Actress award for it. She would just give her best resting bitch face and say her lines in a catty way, and I stared at the screen wondering "She won an acting award for this?"

"Captain of Destiny"'s largest problem lies in the disjointedness of its two storylines: the storyline between the pirates, and Ruco's palatial drama. Both have their distinct strengths, as the pirates' provided humor and lightheartedness, while Ruco's storyline balanced it out with more substantial drama. However, it makes the viewer feel like they're watching two completely different series and made for some awkward scene transitions. There could be a very serious scene involving Ruco and his military, and then we would transition into a scene where Grace was being chased around by the pirates in white "ghost" costumes. It is not until around 20 episodes in before Ruco even meets Tony and Grace.

Another major problem the series has is its plot holes and sloppy writing, particularly when it came to the romantic storylines. I understand that romance was not the focus on the series nor should it have been, but since the writers decided to include it, they should have done a better job. Grace is shown clearly falling for both Tony and Ruco and mulling over her feelings for the two men, but then all of a sudden shows that she only loves Tony. Ruco is portrayed as heartbroken over Grace, and then all of a sudden expresses an interest in Kelly, who returns the interest. This isn't a messy love triangle. This is just bad writing, and it seems like the writers changed their minds midway through writing the script, but could not have been bothered to go back and make the revisions. With that said, to my genuine surprise, I quite liked Tony and Grace together, as their relationship was allowed to grow from friendship. Any love line involving Ruco though, was thrown together very haphazardly.

Perhaps the even bigger concern people had going into the series was not the cast, but the CGI effects. Although it could still be obvious what was CGI and what was not, the effects were definitely much better than expected and the battle scene was very well-done. The series may have had many flaws, but the visual effects ended up not being one of them.

Despite its weaknesses though, "Captain of Destiny" is one of the most entertaining series of the year. It can easily be binge-watched if you just make it past the first few episodes because it has good pacing and still has many elements a solid series should have, including some interesting characters, comedy, drama, a little action, and some romance (as haphazard as it was). With all the mediocre series this year, "Captain" should not be completely written off because of its less-experienced leads and rough beginning. It is still very much a grand production.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Friday, December 18, 2015

TVB 48th Anniversary Awards: Results + Comments

This is probably the most entertaining awards show TVB has had in a while. TVB really cheaped out this year by just using their own artists to present all the awards. Surprisingly, this was actually a great move because the banter between the actors was for the most part entertaining. This was probably because all these actors are colleagues and have all worked with each other at some point, so the humor and usual stalling before the announcement of the winner was a lot more natural.  In TVB's continued effort to try to prove they are fair, once again, there were no truly shocking winners.

Most Improved Actor and Actress: Tony Hung and Grace Chan

Although I normally hate when it takes them forever to present an award, the whole bit with the heart rate monitors was a lot of fun, and was my favorite part of the night. The build up to Most Improved Actor was especially fun and gave the audience so many funny and entertaining moments. My favorite moments (the best translations I could provide with my shoddy Cantonese):

Matt: (on why he chose Katy Kung to come up to the stage) Because she looks pretty tonight, and she normally doesn't.
*Katy gives a fake offended look*
Wong Cho Lam: I demand you to come up here!
Sammy Leung: I demand you to sit down!
WCL: I demand you to come up here and hit him!

WCL: Don't even need to ask, Jennifer Shum right?
Benjamin: *quietly and politely* Yes, please.

Priscilla: The most improved actor of the year is...Natalie Tong, the person next to her!

No surprises at all for either the male or female winner. I really was hoping Tracy or Rosina would win but knew Tracy's chances flew out the window when I realized she couldn't even make it to the ceremony. (Side note: Tracy has recently gone back to school full-time to earn a Master's, so I wouldn't be surprised if she had to miss the ceremony to study for or take finals. So relatable right?) With that said, I'm not about to riot over Grace's win or anything, but I do hope she stops screaming all her lines.

While I do think Tony's win is also premature, I think it is also worth commending that he has rose up to the challenge for his first two lead roles, both of which he stepped in last minute after the originally casted actors pulled out. This is a huge contrast to actresses such as Aimee Chan and Niki Chow who have almost always had tailor-made roles for them to help cover up their weaknesses. His acceptance speech was probably my favorite of the night and made me happy he won, even if I do think it's still a year too early. He was humble but humorous, and I especially loved when he thanked Ruco, "the brother he loves and hates," and not only thanking, but apologizing to his family and friends for not being able to spend time with them recently because he has been busy working. I'm also happy Priscilla presented the award to him, and in true Priscilla and Tony-style banter, refused to actually say his name.

Best Supporting Actor and Actress: Wai Ka Hung for "Lord of Shanghai" and Elaine Yiu for "Captain of Destiny"

This came extremely out of the blue for me since I did not watch "Lord of Shanghai," but you know it was definitely a deserving win when Wai Ka Hung got the biggest standing ovation of the night from his colleagues. It makes me happy when actors who have been working tirelessly at TVB for many years (in his case, over 20) earn recognition. I can't help but notice the people who receive the biggest and most wholehearted standing ovations and cheers at the awards are for actors who have been working for a very long time without recognition, such as Ram and Elena in recent years. In contrast, the applause for Grace was very calm and seemed more out of general courtesy. We can all agree that we should be mature and not petty, but it must hurt when you've been working hard for so long while seeing someone else near you have a picture perfect career and raise to the top...

Elaine is a decent actress who TVB has never really given good opportunities to, so it's a shame when she finally gets promoted and wins this award, it's for a year she underwhelmed and disappointed. All I can say is, I'm glad she didn't win for her screen time-hogging annoying character with the chronic stink-eye in "Raising the Bar." I hope TVB will give her more of a variety of roles instead of the cold, detached characters. I honestly wonder if TVB really wanted to give her this award, or they really couldn't think of anyone else.

My Favorite Male and Female Characters: Ruco Chan for "Captain of Destiny" and Kristal Tin for "Ghost of Relativity"

When Ruco's name was called, I honestly didn't know whether to feel happy for his win, or disappointed because I knew at that point he had lost the race for Best Actor. You can tell he must have felt conflicted too. He still gave a mature and eloquent speech and I'm sure he is grateful for his fans and for winning his first award, but there was still a visible sadness. But I will focus on the positive side instead and say, I'm so happy Ruco has finally won his first award in Hong Kong. Congratulations Ruco, but you'll always be my favorite. ;)

Kristal's win was not a surprise, and the fact that she has a "Been there, done that attitude" about Best Actress and was so supportive of her "Ghost" co-star meant she was a much better sport than usual winners of this award instead of giving the infamous "black face." She is definitely the most gifted comedic actress TVB has right now. Though, TVB really doesn't want to give this award to Linda huh?

Best Actor and Actress: Anthony Wong for "Lord of Shanghai" and Nancy Wu for "Ghost of Relativity"

If Ruco was going to lose Best Actor to anyone, I'm glad it was to a critically-acclaimed actor like Anthony and not a less experienced and unworthy actor. Once again, I did not watch "Lord" so I cannot personally comment. Although after this and Dayo's truly shocking 2013 win, I'm starting to think TVB is taking this whole "Let's prove to the audience we don't play favorites and are fair" a bit too seriously...

It was obvious Nancy was going to win Best Actress after Kristal won Favorite Character. I'm still a little annoyed she has gotten so much attention for one of her weaker performances. However, the genuinely dazed and shocked reaction Nancy gave before tearing up was truly touching. I also like that she acknowledged that her performance in "Ghost" left a lot of room for improvement. This win also means that Nancy has worked up from winning Most Improved in 2008, to Best Supporting Actress in 2013, to finally Best Actress this year. Is there anyone else who has done this? Now here's to hoping Nancy doesn't fall victim to the "becomes boring after getting promoted to lead actress" curse...

Best Drama: "Lord of Shanghai"

Deserved. Glad TVB didn't decide to give it to "Captain" or pull a completely BS move and give it to "Ghost."

Best Classic Drama: "The Greed of Man"

*breathes a sigh of relief TVB didn't give it to "Triumph in the Skies" or pull another BS move by giving it to "Brother's Keeper" to drum up anticipation for the sequel*

Best Theme Song: Jinny Ng's subtheme for "The Empress of China"

The one BS move TVB decided to make. This category has existed for two years, and Jinny has now won twice. Should we just rename it the Jinny Ng award next year? At least last year's win for the "Line Walker" subtheme made sense, but this was just clear favoritism.

And just for fun, other moments during the awards show I found noteworthy and funny:
  • Tavia, Nancy, and Sharon presenting Best Supporting Actress and stating how all the winners of this award had to play tragic roles, except for Elena who essentially just got to make out with Kenneth in her winning series.
  • Kristal seems like such a fun, goofy, and straightforward person and was hilarious when she presented. I loved when she was joking about how she has caused so many good things to happen to all her male co-stars. Also loved when Anthony told her they had actually worked together before, but she said she was so intimidated by him that she blocked it out of her memory. Then she proceeded to yell at him for being so preoccupied with talking to her when it was his acceptance speech.
  • Ruco and Wayne's banter was much more subtle than the others, but still funny and enjoyable. These two totally need to collaborate (and Wayne in a role where he doesn't just spend the whole time screaming). 
  • When Benz called out Ben, Kenny, and Evergreen, and for not greeting Dodo by calling them his "elders."
  • Everybody eating fried chicken, some people with gloves. This was obviously some promotional tactic (guessing KFC sponsors TVB), but it was still funny. I wonder if they got the idea from when Ellen ordered pizza at the Oscar's...
How do you feel about this year's winners? Were there any other moments you enjoyed from the awards show?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

TVB 48th Anniversary Awards: My Predictions and Picks

It's that time of year again! And after employing a friend to hound me to write this post, it's finally done.

I'll be frank: This year sucked. I had a hard time getting this post done because I couldn't even come up with all my predictions for a while. Try as I might, I did end up putting down quite a few "N/A's" because I just couldn't think of any predictions or picks, and didn't want to just put down something random (granted, that's what TVB seemed to do). It didn't help I only watched 8 series this year because I was just so disinterested in TVB's offerings this year and later became so busy with my semester. But, a tradition is a tradition! Fun fact: This is now the seventh consecutive year I am writing an anniversary awards predictions post! 

Click here for the full nominations list.

Best Actor

Top 5: Kevin Cheng, Ruco Chan, Anthony Wong, Wayne Lai, and Kent Tong
Predicted Winner: Ruco 
Most Deserving: Ruco
Personal Choice: Ruco 

After being the quiet contender almost every year since "The Other Truth," Ruco has finally emerged as the actor with the most buzz. He has now won Best Actor in Malaysia and Singapore, which is a good indicator he'll finally be able to take the award home in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, I stopped watching "Captain of Destiny" after a few episodes so I can't specifically comment on his performance. Of course, I've only heard great things about it, because after all, it's Ruco. I do wish he had been in a stronger series where he wasn't the one thing making it worthwhile so I had watched it and been more excited, but I may go back and give "Captain" another try during break, or at least watch some of his scenes. 

Anthony has also received considerable buzz, but TVB has nothing to gain from giving him the award. Then again, not that they gained anything by giving Dayo the award 2 years ago. However, Anthony has straightforwardly said he will not film more with TVB just because he wins the award. For once, I want TVB to listen to the business voice in their head. TVB. reward your most valuable asset right now in light of all the siu sangs and fa dans flocking away from your studios like they have the plague and the newer generation being nowhere near ready to take over.  

I wish I was more excited for Ruco right now, but I'm sure I will be once I see my favorite finally standing up at the podium giving a lovely acceptance speech. :) Don't let me down (for the 989,482th time), TVB!

Best Actress

Top 5: Liza Wang, Linda Chung, Kristal Tin, Nancy Wu, and Alice Chan
Predicted Winner: Liza
Most Deserving: N/A
Personal Choice: N/A

I'm hoping that if I put Liza down as my prediction, it'll come true instead of Kristal or Nancy winning. After the joke that was Kristal and Nancy both winning Best Actress in Malaysia, who knows what will go down that night though. Although it sounds like Liza did not have an exceptional or breakthrough performance in "Limelight Years," I'd much rather her win for yet another consistent performance in a little-watched but generally well-received and modest "Limelight Years" then Kristal for a consistent performance for the silliness that was "Ghost of Relativity." Nancy is an even worse choice. I love Nancy and think she is a wonderful actress, but this was weaker than her typical performance. Her character did not give her much to work with. Kristal at least was able to display more comedic talent. Unfortunately, Nancy probably has the largest chance just on the grounds she's yet to receive the award. Overall, no female delivered a mind-blowing (or even somewhat fresh and above lukewarm, really) leading performance this year.

My Favorite Male Character

Top 5: Kevin Cheung, Louis Cheung, Ruco Chan, Tony Hung, and Anthony Wong
Predicted Winner: Tony
Most Deserving: Ruco
Personal Choice: Vincent Wong
Snub: Johnson Lee for "Officer Geomancer"

If Ruco wins Best Actor, he may either be yet another person to pull a double win, or Tony will receive the award. Either is fine by me, but I think it will be Tony's titular "Cheung Po Tsai" since the favorite character awards are still half determined by TVB's call and half by fan votes. I really did not watch many series this year but if I had to pick a favorite male character, it'd probably be Vincent in "Brick Slaves" because he was a comical, sweet, nice, and caring guy, but still knew to set limits to his niceness and when to put his foot down. 

If Oscar managed to get nominated for yet another repetitive loud-mouthed and gangster-like role though, Johnson totally should've been able to grab a nomination for the same series as well. 

My Favorite Female Character

Top 5: Grace Chan, Kristal Tin, Nancy Wu, Liza Wang, Linda Chung
Predicted Winner: Grace
Most Deserving: N/A
Personal Choice: Priscilla Wong
Wtf? Vivien Yeo

My money's on Grace though the overall response to her character (though more specifically Grace's performance) has been negative. Priscilla's character in "Madam Cutie on Duty" was probably my favorite of the year because she actually made me laugh (and not in a "she's so stupid" way). She was sassy, fun, and her initial mocking of housewives to only realize she was slowly morphing into one herself and learning to appreciate them was very entertaining. But uh...what is Vivien's "Ghost of Relativity" character doing here? Why is this stupid series getting so many nominations??

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Winner: Joel Chan 
Most Deserving: Joel
Personal Choice: N/A
Snub: Geoffrey Wong for "Come Home Love"

This category was disappointing for me because the supporting actor category, for as long as I can remember, has always been very tight. Even if there weren't many exceptional performances, there were many solid choices. And yet this year's list looks haphazardly thrown together. Quite a few of these actors are nominated for minor supporting roles. Again, I haven't watched enough series to make my own choice and none of the series I've seen possessed any award-worthy supporting performances. I'm going to go with Joel for my prediction since I have heard good things about his character and performance there and have previously thought he's a pretty decent actor too. I'm not sure what TVB thinks of him or if they have intentions to further promote him, but if they do, this would be a good chance. 

I guess TVB didn't want to nominate any more actors from "Come Home Love" since the indirect sequel is currently airing, but that still doesn't make sense to me since the original didn't finish airing until the midway through the year. Since this list seems to have so many fillers anyway, I would've liked to see Geoffrey Wong be nominated for portraying "Damon" in the sitcom, as the actor never fails to make me laugh and is one of my favorites to watch. To the best of my memory, Lau Dan and Griselda Yeung were the only ones ever nominated. 

Best Supporting Actress  

Predicted Winner: N/A
Most Deserving: N/A
Personal Choice: N/A
Wtf? Elena
Snub: Rosina Lam (Lin Xia Wei) 

This is definitely the weakest category this year, which resulted in my sad (lack of) predictions and choices here. All of these actresses either gave weak or ordinary performances, or are otherwise likable actresses nominated for very small and irritating roles (ahem, Vivien and Celine). 

I don't even have Elena to fall back on again this year because she's nominated for a guest role in "Raising the Bar." For a good minute I couldn't even remember her being in the series. She was not a notable guest star, she was just a judge that was friends with Ben, Ram, Timothy who maybe what, had 3 or 4 casual conversations with them? 

I did not watch "Momentary Lapse in Reason," but I had pegged Rosina as a strong contender for this award months ago after being surprised by all the praise about her performance and how she was more impressive than Tavia (though, that's not saying much these days due to her boring characters). And then the nominations list came out and she was nominated for Best Actress instead. I don't understand how TVB categories people sometimes. So thanks TVB, for taking away the one damn prediction I had for this category. I surrender. I've got absolutely nothing, which is why there's a big fat question mark instead of a picture here. I just hope Elaine Yiu does not take home the award.

Most Improved Actor

Predicted Winner: Tony Hung
Most Deserving: Matt Yeung
Personal Choice: Matt
Snub: Lai Lok Yi

It's good to still see pretty decent competition in both Most Improved categories. With the exposure he's received this year and a high-profile role and series under his belt, it's hard seeing this award go to anyone besides Tony. I've liked Tony since his debut last year and will not mind if he wins, but do feel like solely acting wise, it's too premature and I would ideally prefer him to win next year. However, my gut tells me Tony will be winning this year, and Benjamin Yuen the next year (Yes, I already have a prediction for next year). 

Matt has steadily improved over the years to become a solid actor. He has been nominated for this award several times over the last few years and always been a strong but unfortunately quiet contender. Similar to Vincent before his win two years ago, there has always been someone generating more noise than Matt. Last year it was Louis, and this year it's Tony, though I do think he stands a better chance this year. Even if he doesn't win, which is likely, I do hope TVB continues to promote Matt more instead of sticking him with the cheating boyfriend roles.

Lai Lok Yi's acting has vastly improved just portraying "John Ma" over the course of "Come Home Love's" three year run. I remember him being quite unnatural in the character and coming off like he was trying too hard, but by middle of the impossibly long sitcom, Lok Yi really became John Ma to me. It disappoints me that of the three chances he had to be nominated for this award over CHL's run, TVB still passed up the last chance. The real test for him now though, is how he will fare playing different characters...

Most Improved Actress

Predicted Winner: Tracy Chu
Most Deserving: Rosina Lam 
Personal Choice: Tracy

TVB probably favors Grace more and at the very least, giving this award to her this year makes more sense than last year when she first debuted. With how dead set they are on promoting Grace, I wouldn't be surprised if she won. I won't be extremely pleased though because I was not impressed with Grace's acting in what I saw of "Captain," and it was obvious she is not ready to be a lead actress yet. 

I also wouldn't be surprised (and would be extremely relieved) if the award went to Rosina or Tracy. I'm going to go out on a bit of a limb here and go with my gut by saying I think Tracy will get it. She won in both Singapore and Malaysia. I can't personally comment on Rosina's performance, but will take people's word for it that she gave a breakthrough performance. In which case, it would be a shame to see her go home empty handed. I'm still personally rooting for Tracy though, who absolutely lit up the screen in "The Fixer" in the second half of the series with her upbeat energy and charm as "Duck Duck."

Best Series

Top 5: "Captain of Destiny," "Lord of Shanghai," "Ghost of Relativity," "Eye in the Sky," "Raising the Bar"
Predicted Winner: "Captain of Destiny"
Most Deserving: N/A
Personal Choice: N/A

I don't think TVB does a top 5 for Best Series anymore, but I'll go for it anyway. In an otherwise very quiet year where some of the anniversary series managed to finish airing with next to no media attention, it can't be denied "Captain of Destiny" was the most buzzed about series, even if it was mostly criticism. Perhaps TVB may also go the critically acclaimed route instead and give it to "Lord of Shanghai." "Ghost of Relativity" had the highest ratings and for whatever reason was very popular, so it's almost guaranteed a top 5 slot as well. "Eye in the Sky" also garnered a moderate amount of buzz, if not just for Kevin and Ruco. To round out the top 5, I picked "Raising the Bar" simply because I recall it receiving more attention, particularly for the titular four females, when it aired despite it having an early time slot. I don't have a favorite series this year though, or even one I think I clearly enjoyed above the others.

Most Popular Series Song

Top 3: Alfred Hui and Hubert Wu's theme for "Eye in the Sky," Fred Cheng's theme for "Captain of Destiny," and Joey Yung's theme for "The Empress of China"
Predicted Winner: Fred's theme for "Captain of Destiny"
Most Deserving: Alfred and Hubert's theme for "Eye in the Sky"
Personal Choice: Stephanie Ho's theme song for "Raising the Bar"

As far as I know, I believe the three I listed were the most popular theme songs of the year, but the winner isn't as obvious this year as it was last year. Which is a good thing, because that means no songs were looped over and over again on end! Looking at you, "Line Walker." I personally prefer Alfred and Hubert's theme for "Eye" over Fred's as it was a dynamic duet fitting for the series' more suspenseful genre. However, my overall personal favorite was Stephanie's theme for "Raising the Bar" because it was so fun, catchy, and happy, and most of all it was reminiscent of older lighthearted TVB series. The nostalgia factor was on high for that song, or at least it was for me.

Most Popular Classic Series

Predicted Winner: "Triumph in the Skies"
Most Deserving: "The Greed of Man"
Personal Choice: "War of the Genders"

How did TVB come up with these nominations? Why are "Brother's Keeper" and "Lives of Omission" here? This category already seems like BS, which probably means the oh so overrated "Triumph" will win, though it should definitely be the prolific "The Greed of Man." I'll always have a soft spot for "War of the Genders" though!

So what are everyone else's predictions and personal choices? How many series did everyone even manage to finish this year? Please feel free to comment and discuss!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

"The Fixer" Review

My feelings toward "The Fixer" can best be summed up as ambivalent. "The Fixer" starts off with probably one of the most promising premises so far this year, but greatly suffers from poor direction and pacing.

I went into the series thinking it'd be reminiscent of "Catch Me Now," one of my all-time favorites, with its gray characters, refreshing ensemble, and blend of action and comedy. I was quickly disappointed because the team here is a far cry from the Robin Hood-like gang of "Catch Me Now," who do good deeds albeit through illegal or questionable means. Although Chin Ka Lok's team does not simply accept money from anyone who needs their help, his monologue in the finale saying that he had come to the realization he had not been helping people solve problems all this time, but helping them to avoid responsibility, rings very true.

Although this made me not actively root for the team as much, I was able to put these misguided expectations aside after a few episodes and instead find its real problems elsewhere.

"The Fixer" had great potential to be an entertaining and compelling action drama, but mostly fails in its first half by being roughly 75% draggy family drama and with maybe a 25% focus on the problem solving. I normally like or am indifferent to Gigi Wong, but her character here is a waste of screen time. This is not the actress' fault, but the scriptwriters for dragging her arc out so long and making the huge mistake of focusing on her and the brother's estrangement. Although I cannot say I know much about Alzheimer's, it drove me up the wall and just seemed too convenient that Gigi could recognize her youngest child as a grown up, married woman, yet thought her middle son was a child still in elementary school.

The series picks up after Tracy Chu's character makes her entrance and completes the team. It gradually eases off of Gigi, and in the last five or so episodes it's all a whirlwind of major events. Throughout the series, I was either slouching in my chair bored from the family drama, or staring at the screen trying to process all that was happening. In the end, this is my biggest complaint. The writers spent half the series going in the wrong direction with trite flashbacks and sob stories and offering us minimal insight into the characters (other than Chin Ka Lok and Benjamin Yuen's).

While it does not boast any big names, "The Fixer" does benefit from a fun and unlikely ensemble.

Unfortunately, the series was unable to utilize it more. Chin Ka Lok and Mandy Wong are given the meaty characters with a past, and Tracy and Timmy Hung are mostly relegated to being responsible for comic relief, and we never get to learn too much about them. This is a shame, because although Mandy is a solid actress as usual, her character simply wasn't compelling as the female lead despite her dark past since she spent the majority of her time looking cool and detached.

However, she and Chin Ka Lok surprisingly pulled off chemistry despite the age difference and physical incompatibility. Whether it was their intimate moments or just subtle body language with each other, they appeared very at ease and natural together. Although I am still not a fan of these onscreen pairings with significant age differences, in this situation it worked just fine because both Mandy and Chin Ka Lok are capable actors, while in other pairings there is always a weak link (typically the newbie female who has to be perched up by an experienced actor).

This is the first time I've seen Tracy, and I must say, she has probably already become my favorite newer actress and I hope TVB continues to promote her. From her first scene, she lights up the screen and is very lively, a welcome contrast to Mandy's character. There were several times I actually became annoyed with "Duck Duck," particularly whenever she disrespected Benjamin by being rude or just plain childish, but overall she was a lot of fun. Tracy is natural, possesses charisma and affability, and did well with all the physical comedy she was given, something that puts her at an advantage over many other TVB actresses.

I've always been confused by Timmy's place in TVB, as he seems to just film series whenever he feels like it. With that said, I always enjoy him whenever he does pop up because he seems like such a fun and easy going guy, and this vibe usually transfers onscreen to his typically comical characters, as it did here. He and Tracy certainly fulfilled the task of providing comic relief, both individually and together.

Benjamin is an actor who I've always found affable but can also be unreliable. He tends to cross the fine line between portraying a serious and aloof character well and being wooden. He fares much better here, where we get to see two different sides of him: the "stone face" sergeant, and the warm, dorky side he only reveals to his mom and Rebecca Zhu. He is adequate in his work scenes, but very endearing and entertaining in these warmer scenes where he actually gets to crack a smile. My favorite scene is when he texts Rebecca, intently stares at his phone until she replies, then is so excited when she replies that his phone falls out of his hands when he tries to pick it up.

There are some TVB actresses who look the part and can portray a police madam very well, and then there are those who just look like they're trying too hard. Rebecca is definitely not Linda in "Tiger Cubs 2" bad, but in her first appearance she comes off incredibly forced in her attempt to act professional and dominating. Her performance becomes much better as her character starts to befriend her subordinates, and as a result does not have to look so intimidating. Although I've always been indifferent to Rebecca, I loved her scenes with Benjamin. The two were just so sweet and dorky together.


There was great potential and the cast ensemble is a pretty refreshing one to watch. Yet, this potential does not get fulfilled and instead we got very inconsistent pacing and one bumpy ride. The series virtually wastes half the episodes it was allotted by making the dumb decision to focus on Chin Ka Lok and Benjamin's estranged relationship and Gigi's Alzheimer's. Even the cases themselves were not too interesting. There were just so many problems with the direction (or rather, directions) the script writers took. And yet, there were also many entertaining moments. "The Fixer" ultimately is not a series without its strengths, but has many more flaws that could have been avoided. However, in some ways, it is still much better than many of the other series this year. As a result, I am left still feeling ambivalent instead of mostly positive or negative towards it.

Rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

"Ghost of Relativity" Review

Although "Ghost of Relativity" is appropriately paced, it also felt aimless at the same time and I was left not quite knowing what exactly went on to fill up 28 episodes.

Female leads Kristal Tin and Nancy Wu are the driving force of the series, generating consistent laughs and enjoyable entertainment. They are the saving grace in an otherwise incredibly poor ensemble. They work well together and are a very fun duo to watch, especially in the earlier episodes when Kristal has to repeat everything Nancy says. Combined with people not being able to see Nancy, there were many moments of hilarity that ensued from their interactions.

Kristal is probably one of TVB's best comedic leading actresses because she is much more loose and fluid compared to her peers, making her acting and comedic moments very natural. Nancy in contrast plays the uptight and professional Gin well, to no surprise.

However, besides the two leading ladies, "Ghost" has nothing else to offer. The cast does have some good supporting actors such as Ngo Ka Nin and Raymond Chiu, but with such unlikable and irritating characters it just didn't matter, especially in the former's case. I much prefer Vivien Yeo playing cool and aloof characters in action series than doing whatever it was she was doing here. She succeeds in being an annoying seductress, but that doesn't make her entertaining to watch. Male lead Moses Chan has little to do and plays an awkward and geeky character that fails to be funny or interesting.

Watching the employees at the GSZ firm was beyond irritating, from the incompetent HR department to the air headed sales department, as they never got any work done. Gossiping was their real full-time job! Also, why does an architecture firm only have one licensed architect? And given that Moses' "The tilt that never falls" project had been delayed time and time again, how did the firm not go bankrupt? Perhaps the intention was for "Ghost of Relativity" to be an office comedy with a supernatural twist, but it failed because I wanted to forward any scenes that did not involve Kristal or Nancy (and often did). The episodes where the entire firm is scared out of their minds with the prospect of there being a ghost in the office were the most lame and hard to watch.

By the last few episodes, the main story line starts to become less fun to watch as well due to Nancy's character becoming more spiteful, constantly calling Kristal cheap, and writing off Kristal's genuine feelings for Moses. She does realize she has misunderstood Kristal and redeems herself in the end by finally letting go.

Kristal and Nancy are looking over the horizon to see if there are any better TVB series in sight.

There are laugh out loud moments throughout the whole series, but they are almost exclusively provided by Kristal and Nancy. Everything else was lame or unfunny. Fans of the two leading ladies will enjoy their scenes, but other than that, it's forgettable and not worth the time unless you have too much of it on your hands or have your mouse cursor always hovering over the forward button. "Ghost of Relativity" may feel refreshing initially since it was the first TVB production to air in a while, but if you look at it objectively, it is still another sub par series.

Rating: 2 stars

Friday, August 7, 2015

"Master of Destiny" Review

Why I started this series and managed to get through half of it can be chocked up to "I have too much time right now." By the time I got midway through, the series did get more juicy with Hawick's prison story line, so I thought "Eh, might as well finish it." Clearly, I should've used up my time watching something else. Wong Jing may have some iconic Hong Kong films under his belt, but he has either lost his touch, or just does not know how to write for television anymore.

First off, I'd like to say that I do not mind a mixture of Hong Kong and mainland China actors. There is a loss of familiarity, but just the idea of casting both does not bother me. Unfortunately, the mainland actors cast in this series ranged from adequate at best to cringe worthy at worst, and the poor dubbing further ruins everyone's performances.

Natalie Meng benefits from being the main source of comedic relief in an otherwise incredibly soapy series. Her (or the dubber)'s voice can be irritating and babyish, and she is beyond annoying in the beginning before marrying Edwin's character. However, I liked Lai Yiu Fa's bluntness in the later episodes. With all the family drama and scheming, it was refreshing to see someone just saying it like it is. She's also the only one to have any decent chemistry with her male costar since both were portraying more playful characters.

Other than poor acting, the rest of the female characters, other than Liza's, are written to be unlikable or sloppily written.

Zhao Xiaolu is probably the least offensive of the mainland actresses and quite pretty and sweet as "Suk Han," but has barely anything to do besides hopelessly pine for Kenny Wong's Cho Chi Wang. Kimmy Tong is irritating to watch as Cho Hau Yee, who also spends her time pining over one of the Cho brothers. Michelle Hu as "Poon Siu Kei" probably has the meatiest female character and managed to even become someone worth sympathizing for after an unpleasant entrance into the series, but is abruptly sent to prison later and not seen again until the finale. Don't even get me started on Monica Mok's villain character "Song Chi Wah," who spends the whole series plotting to take over Xin Han Li only to suddenly drop it all and redeem herself.

Knowing Hawick Lau is a well-known leading actor in mainland China, I was disappointed and expected more from him. Hawick isn't terrible, but he's by no means great, and it looks like the Botox he's received makes it hard for him to emote at times. While he is certainly more interesting to watch as "Cho Chi Yuen" when he becomes manipulative and harsh, he mostly makes the same cold and aloof facial expressions.

Kenny Wong is also mostly uninteresting and at times wooden as Chi Wang, but even further weighed down by a poorly written character. Chi Wang is the most likable brother in the first few episodes, being the most responsible and levelheaded. However, he quickly becomes the stupidest, falling under the spell of Song Chi Wah. What annoys me most is he is portrayed as an overall good and conscientious guy, yet seems to not be bothered one bit that he is obviously cheating on his wife. Kenny's acting may not be anything special, but it is the wishy-washy writing of Chi Wang that presents the most issues.

Edwin Siu delivers the strongest and most natural performance of the brothers, but unfortunately also has the least to do and the least screen time. At this point, the guy can portray these useless, lazy, and talkative characters in his sleep, so can we please give him a new challenge?

Angie Chiu's character was unnecessary and did not culminate into anything major, turning out to just be a recurring guest star. There was little screen time and acting challenge for her, which made me wonder if Angie only agreed to take part in the series to just have some fun acting again and collect a paycheck.

In an otherwise poorly acted series, Liza Wang actually offers a performance different from her others. There's still snippets of the sassiness she is known for, although much more subtle, but overall Kwan Yeuk Nam is a much more serious character who is smart and strong without being neither too calculating or too nice. Liza did very well with her dramatic scenes.

The plot is full of cliched and soapy story lines, but to a certain extent this makes it occasionally funny (albeit in an unintended way) and fun to poke fun at (also unintended). The series does become more entertaining after Hawick is sent to prison and subsequently acquitted, but overall it is still a mediocre series. As poor as the writing is though, the most irritating aspect of "Master of Destiny" is still easily the mix of original Cantonese audio and dub. I finished this series because at the time I had nothing else to watch, but next time I will just go read or rewatch an old series.

Rating: 2 stars

Monday, June 15, 2015

"Will Power" Review

After skipping the series when it aired in 2013, I recently went back to watch "Will Power" after reading some good reviews.

I originally didn't have an interest in watching "Will Power" because of leads Wayne Lai and Moses Chan, which sounds silly since they are TV Kings. I was tired of seeing Wayne in his usual yelling roles at the time and was never a fan of Moses save for a few enjoyable performances here and there. However, they both deliver superb performances here and anchor the series.

Wayne Lai was finally able to play a character here where he doesn't have to constantly be screaming since being promoted to leading actor. Wilson Yu is a very smart, sharp, and confident lawyer who can command attention in the courtroom while still overall being someone who is calm and mild-mannered (except when it comes to Sheila sometimes anyway), allowing Wayne to be much more at ease here. His personal life, particularly his health, is somewhat of a hot mess in the first third of the series, and he plays a convincing stroke victim before Wilson is able to move past his psychological obstacles and get back into the courtroom.

In pure comedies, Moses Chan easily becomes over the top and annoying (though I do suspect it is mostly under the command of the director and people behind the scenes), and in dramas, he can become boring. However, he excels at roles such as "Morris Lee" where his character gets to be comical, charming, light, and playful, while still showing that he's serious and can get the job done.

However, Wayne and Moses are better together than apart and play off each other very well. They will make you laugh out loud, particularly in the early scenes they share together with their rivalry, even if they do act childish. The banter they engage in later on remains hilarious, perhaps even more so because the audience knows these two lawyers have grown to greatly respect and even like each other despite what they may say. Although the ladies' characters here are a complete disappointment, the mens' behavior because of them or towards them could become pretty darn funny, showing how Wilson and Morris are serious lawyers, but silly and jealous little boys at heart when it comes to the women they love.

Unfortunately, similar praise cannot be said for the female leads. Christine Ng gets to sit and act all judge-like, and Fala Chen gets to box a little, but other than that, they are there mostly to serve as the love interests of our leading men. As a result, they perform adequately but simply do not have much material to work with. There was potential for us to witness Fala's "Eugene" become a better lawyer, but she was later moved to the sidelines. Wayne and Christine look compatible as husband and wife, while I enjoyed Fala and Moses much more as close friends, and thought they looked more like brother and sister when they became a couple.

Jason Chan's acting here remains rather unnatural, but he is helped by having a relatively likable character. Sire Ma does quite well in her street-smart role, but her performance becomes more unstable when "Nana" is raped, going from being strangely calm to overly hysterical from scene to scene.

The MVP award goes to Vincent Wong, whose "Gilbert Sung" may not be the main character, but certainly a central one that moves the story along. In his early days, Vincent always appeared incredibly unnatural when portraying characters who are pompous rich guys, perhaps because it is far away from his real-life personality. Yet, although he slightly overacts at times, Vincent is able to really step into the shoes of Gilbert, an arrogant, immature, pill-popping rapist who got by on his daddy's money. By the end of the series, I became convinced that Vincent was a jerk in real life like his character. Also, kudos to him for yet again taking so many slaps from a veteran like a pro.

The veterans in the series get the job done, as always. Chung King-Fai is convincing in his scenes as a much more manipulative character than he usually plays. However, I couldn't help but notice and be annoyed by scenes where he is watching trials in the background of the courtroom, and how he always wears an angry facial expression that makes him look like he's sucking on a sour lemon. Power Chan is endearing and sympathetic as the autistic but kindhearted "Sung Ka Cheung," but unfortunately does not have too much to do.

As a law drama, "Will Power" fares much better than TVB's last few efforts, and this is despite the fact that Christine, for whatever reason, is the judge on all the cases shown in the series despite being Wayne's ex-wife and Moses' ex-girlfriend. Conflict of interest may not exist in the universe of this series, but the probate cases are surprisingly quite interesting, and I was relieved that while the series incorporates a lot of humorous moments, the courtroom scenes were kept serious.

Overall, "Will Power" is a much more mature series than TVB's usual offerings these days. There's plenty of laughs and chuckles to go around, but there's no fooling around when these lawyers get to work, and thankfully, no overly messy relationships. The main characters here, for the most part, actually act like adults. For once, the scriptwriters decided to avoid a love triangle between the two leads, and the only "love triangle" in the series involves Wayne and Patrick Tang pining over Christine, but the handling of this situation is done decently with no immature fighting.

The series is appropriately paced, funny, and interesting, making this 32-episode drama an entertaining one that takes little effort to finish. The female leads leave much to be desired, but are mostly balanced out by our dynamic male leads. Not bad, TVB. Not bad at all.

Rating: 4 stars

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Happy 6th Anniversary, TVB Interaction! What's changed in 6 years...

TVB Interaction turns 6 years old today! Happy 6th Anniversary TVB Interaction! I had first started watching TVB the summer of 2008 and this blog was first created on June 13, 2009. To celebrate 6 years on the web (some years more active than others), I wanted to reflect back on how things have changed with TVB, my relationship with it, and my own life since I first got sucked into the world of TVB. I apologize in advance if it gets more boring going down.

So over the last 6 years, what has changed...

...with TVB?

Oh how I miss that adorable face.
If the TVB fan in me in 2008 saw what it is like now, it would've started screaming "Where is everyone?!" The most obvious change over the last 7 years is the major exodus of artists (and that's an understatement). The young leading actors I saw when first getting into this fandom have since left or look like they're about to do so. Sammul Chan and Raymond Lam were my favorite actors when I first started watching TVB series, and not long after Sammul left, and Raymond started boring me with his idol roles before finally parting ways with the station last year. The familiar faces I came to love and recognize left or significantly reduced their work load with TVB, including Charmaine, Steven, Fala, and soon, Myolie. Now we're seeing TVB trying to take chances and quickly giving newbie actors leading roles as the cast of series get increasingly weaker.

However, a good thing that has happened over the years is that all four of the actors who started out in supporting roles I took a great liking to and pegged as potential stars ultimately became lead actors.

Guys, it's Ruco with a puppy. *dies from the cuteness*
Ruco Chan, who I first noticed in a slew of small semi-villain supporting roles in 2009 such as "The Threshold of a Persona" and "Burning Flame 3" and still remains my favorite, may have meandered in the entertainment industry for a long time before rejoining TVB, but quickly hit the big time starring in 2011's "The Other Truth."

Raymond Wong also experienced a breakthrough after 2009's "Sweetness in the Salt," going on to costar with Ruco in "The Other Truth," a casting move that literally had me jumping for joy when it was first announced.

Edwin Siu quietly returned to TVB in 2008 after a music career cut short and stint in China with likable small supporting roles such as "Ken" in "Forensic Heroes 3" before impressing people with his comedic timing as the adorable "Ah Yap" in 2012's "Daddy Good Deeds."

It is not Vincent, it's Gilbert, the pill-popping, arrogant, rich heir
begging for a shovel to the head (Oh wait that's exactly what he got).
Finally, I first started liking Vincent Wong in 2010's "Gun Metal Grey," more for his affability and likability than his acting skill. By 2012, I noticed how natural he had become in "Tiger Cubs." I was officially sold on the fact that Vincent is a genuinely talented actor who could add subtle touches after 2013's "A Change of Heart" and hoped TVB would promote him more. I recently watched him as a villain in "Will Power" and was impressed and taken aback by how convincing he was as "Gilbert" in contrast to his previous performances as spoiled rich guys where he looked unnatural and uncomfortable. After a second lead role in last year's "Tomorrow is Another Day," Vincent is now also receiving lead roles in upcoming series.

Four actors who I pegged as potential stars that came true! *pats self on back* Louis Cheung also kind of counts, but the audience was smart in seeing his acting talent very quickly and he shot up the ranks to leads in a year due to the current lack of leading actors. Now either my eye is now not working, or there are currently no new actors with a lot of potential...

...with my relationship with TVB?
As we all know, the TVB blogosphere has greatly quieted down. There were still many blogs that emerged after MetalAZNWarrior's TVB Musings signed off the web. Now, you can count the remaining active blogs on one hand, and it's sad. The TVB fandom isn't what it once was. Thankfully, there's still Twitter for those of us who want to share our thoughts on the series we're watching but don't have the time or motivation to write full-length blog posts.

John Cho is too good to be playing the
token Asian guy in your Hollywood movie.
I'm not as into TVB as I used to be, and I don't watch as many series a year as I used to, but I don't think I'll ever completely stop watching their dramas, even if it comes down to watching just one or two a year. First off, as long as my favorite actors are around, I'll be checking out the dramas of theirs that interest me. The second is a sentimental attachment and the connection to Asian culture and community it and this blog gave me. I also like being able to hearing Cantonese (and can understand a whole lot more since 2008).

However, a different reason to appreciate TVB that I've developed in the last few years as I've become more and more into American TV, is being able to see Hong Kong actors play such a wide array of roles. Sure, they can be subject to typecasts, but those typecasts aren't structured by racial stereotypes the way it is in Hollywood where the under representation and misrepresentation is rampant. Just ask Korean American actor John Cho, who has experienced racism in Hollywood, and was asked to do an accent for 2002's "Big Fat Liar" (he refused). There is a reason why some popular Asian actors, such as Taiwan's Mark Chao, have declined opportunities to appear in Hollywood movies. While American TV shows overall tend to have better writing, it's still satisfying to shut off the TV, get on my laptop, and watch Asians killing it in a diverse range of roles (possible since the whole cast is Asian).

...with me?
I'm still here aren't I? Despite the many random and long breaks I take, I have continually returned to blog for TVB Interaction even if it's just to cover the anniversary awards for a month because I still enjoy it. At the beginning of the year, I tried to give myself a quota where I would write a blog post once a month, whether on TVB Interaction or AE Experience, and that lasted for that whole first month. However, I will continue to write (knowing me, probably in spurts of multiple blog posts published closely together and taking year-long breaks) until the day I decide I don't enjoy doing it anymore. For those times in between, I am still on Twitter sharing (and venting) thoughts on TVB matters.
In honor of my reflection on the last 6 years today,
here's a picture I took of the reflecting pool during my senior prom.

I started TVB Interaction when I was in 8th grade, and I've now finished my first year of college in D.C. I'm majoring in psychology and intend on going to law school.

I've also become an even more avid fan of television. Movies just don't do it for me since I love following a set of characters and seeing them grow over episodes and seasons. My favorite TV dramas are "Once Upon a Time" and "Nashville," but my biggest love is definitely sitcoms that make me laugh out loud and relax after a long day. The 90s classic "Boy Meets World" along with "30 Rock" and "How I Met Your Mother" are my ultimate favorites and watching episodes of them during breaks from studying were definitely how I managed to stay sane during finals. If you like TVB and any of these shows, you should definitely comment or tweet at me (or request to follow me on Twitter if you aren't already since I leave my account protected).

I hope you've managed to read to this point, and if you have, don't be a stranger and leave a comment, whether it's about your own relationship with TVB over the years, or just to say "hi" and say you're still around blogging or tweeting. As random as my updates can be, I hope you keep checking back at TVB Interaction for another 6 years.

Monday, June 8, 2015

"Eye in the Sky" Review

The time seems to have passed for me to write a review on this series (I was already pretty late in starting and finishing it), but it's summer and I've got a lot of free time and no other TVB series from this year that I've watched.

"Eye in the Sky" becomes yet another series that generated moderate Best Actor buzz for lead Ruco Chan but is ultimately too weak of a series on its own to do Ruco any real chance (see 2013's "Brother's Keeper" and 2014's "Ruse of Engagement"). The series picks up quickly, and the first ten or so episodes are intriguing and appropriately paced. Unfortunately (but unsurprisingly), "Eye" could not have lost momentum any faster than it did once Kevin's character found out Ruco is his long-lost twin. The plot fizzles, then crashes and burns as we go around in twists and turns I can no longer remember since I was on the fence about writing this review for so long for the remaining two thirds of the series.

Kevin Cheng does both outgoing, laid back and cocky type characters ("Ghetto Justice") and the quiet, cool, introverted ones well, but when acting alongside Ruco, it quickly becomes apparent that Ruco is the more versatile and natural actor. Although I got a kick out of the scene in the first episode where "Szeto Shun" saves Tavia Yeung's character, catches a criminal, then calmly proceeds to whip out his phone and finish his sudoku puzzle, Kevin's character still left much to be desired. In particular, I totally missed the part where Kevin started to fall for Tavia... Oh wait, the script just neglected to show that. Doh.

Tavia fell out of favor with me a long time ago, and not only did this series and character "Jan" do nothing to
help that, it possibly made it worse. The nerdy glasses and bad wardrobe of the character were the least of my problems. She was supposed to be this very clever and sneaky private investigator but scenes of her following people she was investigating showed otherwise. Also, she was WHINY. She's a grown woman, but for over 18 months after sleeping with Ruco's character (who she thought was Kevin), she moped around and half-assed her work? I don't have complaints for Tavia's performance. I just have complaints that she received such a terrible character that didn't flatter her at all. 

Ruco does all that he can with what he's given in "Cheng Nik Hang," like he does with all his performances. For this reason, I was still able to sympathize with Ah Nik and see how his spite emerged from such a tough past instead of hating him the last few episodes. By then, I had gotten fed up with his stubbornness and his increased blindness and inability to see things from another perspective. And yet, until the last two episodes, his behavior still mostly made sense. Episodes 19 and 20 throw any hint of rationality the series had left to the dogs by turning Lik from an insecure, hurt person driven to act with manipulation and spite into a ridiculous cartoonish, mentally unstable, drug-injecting villain. Notice the character also undergoes a drastic wardrobe change these last two episodes that sees Ruco going from wearing lots of colored plaid shirts with t-shirts to lots of grungy black and gray pieces. Because TVB clearly thinks we're idiots and we have to SEE a physical change in appearance to know Ruco's a full-on villain now. Ruco draws sympathy from the audience until a certain point with his performance, and is able to bring his creep on in the finale. He deserves praise for being able to do quite a bit with a sloppily written character, but I'm still waiting for a series after "The Other Truth" where he is able to be boosted by a strong script and character, instead of trying to lift up a lackluster one.

Despite loving Ruco and Tavia in "The Other Truth," I dreaded seeing them here. In fact, I think "Eye" can just be summed up as the series where I kept yelling at the screen "Why do two such attractive and cool guys (until Ruco lost his marbles) like such a plain and annoying girl?!" for 20 episodes. But I rest my case. 

While a flirty womanizer, Tony Hung as "Terry" ends up becoming the voice of reason in the second half of the series, constantly trying to talk some sense into Ah Nik. By the end of the series, he is the only character I liked and cared for and I kept worrying he'd die when Ah Nik begged Terry to help him one last time. Since I'm used to seeing Tony playing more dorky characters, I couldn't help but laugh in the scenes Tony was trying to be suave and flirty, where he came off as trying too hard. However, he's still very likable and more natural in other scenes, particularly in playful friendship scenes with Ruco.

Samantha Ko has the least to work with of all the characters but "Ah Ling"'s upbeat and youthful personality was a nice and welcome contrast to Jan's mopey one. She and Tony make a cute couple, but their relationship was unimportant and unnecessary to the overall story other than to give the guy who has supported and put up with Ah Nik's increasing nonsense over the years a happy ending.

Vivian Yeo seems to be the new go to girl for these mastermind, hit man type roles, which at the least is an interesting thing to be typecast in. She can certainly look cold and detached.

I'm sick of saying this for TVB series these days, but it had potential and could have been so much better. Instead it became increasingly unrealistic, draggy, and prone to driving around in circles. It's yet another typical case of the cast not being able to save a bad script (and certainly not with the characters they had).

Rating: 3 stars

Friday, March 20, 2015

FILMART 2015 Commentary

FILMART was today, and you can watch the clips now on Casual TVB! Keep reading for the thoughts that went through my head as I watched the clips...

"Vampire": Uh... If I want to watch a vampire drama, I think I'll just rewatch the first two seasons of "The Vampire Diaries" before the show started going downhill. I like Kevin and Kay, but this looks cheesy and like there is way too much going on here. Joel's look here is very creepy.

"Brother's Keeper II": For the sake of supporting Edwin and Kristal, I'll probably at least give this a try when it comes out. However, a sequel, even if it is indirect, seems redundant and bound to flop. Looks like it'll be another drama claiming to be full of business wars to end up becoming underwhelming ala "Overachievers." Grace's scenes provide a strange contrast to the clips of Edwin and Kristal. 

"Limelight Years": I like veteran actors Damien and Liza, but this looks like another cheesy family drama and none of the rest of the cast draws me in. Don't have anything against Alex Fong, but his incorporation of English lines already has me cringing as well as his and Linda's messy looking relationship. The only thing that looks refreshing is the filming of the series. It looks like they did a lot of outdoor and location shooting.

"Lord of Shanghai": I've never liked premodern dramas and probably never will, save for a few exceptions ("Bottled Passion" and "A Fistful of Stances" come to mind). It has a good male veteran cast but uh...Anthony Wong and Myolie Wu?  I'm also not interested in seeing Wayne Lai in another screaming match.

"Captain of Destiny": Oh Tony... I love you, but still don't think you're ready for a leading role, never mind in a role like this (maybe in a lighthearted modern series). If I watch this series, it'll be a constant struggle for me to not laugh out loud at his mustache and pirate get up. This clip does nothing to further sell me on the series. Grace appears in three out of six of these clips. And the year of getting her shoved down our throats continues...

"Under the Veil": It's amusing how I'm seeing this clip now, as Niki and I were just talking the other day about TVB hasn't done a mythical/fantasy ancient series since 2008's "Legend of the Demigods." I feel like this series will remind me of why... But hey, Sonija's back and she's looking lovely.

Side note: I hope fans will start subbing TVB series again soon. While I understand enough to still follow the plot without subtitles, they're helpful and let me pay more attention to the story as opposed to comprehending the words.  Ancient series are also much harder to understand, so I usually skip them altogether if there are no subs.

Most anticipated: None.

Least anticipated: Pretty much all of them.

This is a time TVB gets HK audiences excited for what series are coming. So did TVB pick the worst of the crop or is just telling of how bleak the future is looking for them?