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

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