Tag Archives: Chris Lai

What’s Up; #4.

16 Jul

So, besides finishing up my holidays, starting class back up again, having computer problems and procrastination, what’s been up in the world of TVB?

Love Exchange

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As you can see from the new banner, I’m enjoying this series. Although it seems like a let down in certain ways because the intriguing sales presentation promised so much more, but I’m really loving the series not so much for the plot, but for the acting alone, mostly from Anita Yuen.

While I don’t ever remember seeing her in a TVB series before, that doesn’t make a difference. I warmed up to her immediately on-screen. Anita really is such a brilliant actress. I don’t know how much TVB paid to lure her away from her adorable baby boy and back to film but she is worth every single cent. She is wholeheartedly Sit Chi Yiu, from top to toe, in and out. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that was how Anita is in real life too. And well, what can I say? Gotta love Michael Miu too. Surely it must be illegal to still look so good at his age? He’s my George Clooney of Hong Kong.

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I didn’t expect much from the Michael/Anita pairing, but the sparks between them on-screen is so evident and so natural.

Power Chan and Krystal Tin are perfect choices for the second leads. Often underrated, both of them have been great so far and I expect we’ll see a lot more from them soon as the plot thickens. Special shout out goes to the guy who plays Kei Chai, Chi Yiu‘s little brother-in-law (I think his name is Alex Lam?). Gosh, this kid is hilarious! I’ve never watched him before but my dad keeps on eagerly informing me that he’s the disciple from Men Don’t Cry, so I deduce he must’ve been good there as well because my dad rarely gets that excited. Heh.

In terms of the plot and the mystery it promised in the sales presentation on the other hand, there’s nothing yet. So far most of it has been filler, but we’ll see. I think there’s definitely more to the death of Dick (Eddie Kwan) and Bonnie (Angela Tong). I get this feeling that Jackie (Krystal Tin) might be tied to it somehow since she has that one “great love” which they’ve mentioned a few times now. Might it be Dick?

On a different note, I don’t know why they named him Dick, considering they have to mention his name so many times in the series. Heh.

I also really, really love the themesong. Every Kary Ng song that I’ve heard, I’ve liked. This one is no exception. As usual, I haven’t a clue what it means, but the melody fits the series quite well.

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The Speech of Silence

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I expected SO much more from this. I enjoyed the first few episodes, watching the dubbing, enjoying the initial squabbling between OK Chai (Kenneth Ma) and Tong Tong (Kate Tsui), but as the series progressed, I found myself dragging through the episodes. Lau Dan is great as usual, but I couldn’t have cared less about the entire she-bang with him and OK Chai. Ditto for the Tong Tong and Mary Hon storyline. Stephen Huynh is atrocious, awful, whatever you want to name it. The only thing that I actually enjoy are Chris Lai and Elaine Yiu. Chris cracks me up whenever he’s on-screen, and Elaine has improved in spades. I’m not saying that Kate hasn’t, but I can’t help but feel that her acting pales when she’s next to Elaine on-screen.

I’m the kind of person who can’t bear to watch a series out of sequence or not finish a series I’ve started watching (Part of the reason why I haven’t attempted Gossip Girl, because my first episode is missing) but last week I missed Episodes 10-14 of this series and I didn’t even feel like catching the re-runs on Astro On Demand. Right now, I’m just catching bits and pieces here and there when I walk in and out of the TV room when my family watches it. I suppose I’ll try to finish it, but at the rate I’m going, this might be the first series I abandon in 2008.

It’s such a shame though, that an interesting theme had to be wasted in this way. There was so much potential for it to be the underdog series of the year, but that title still remains with A Journey Called Life, I reckon. I’ve seen people comparing the series, saying that Speech is superior to Journey, and I just absolutely have to disagree.

(Ehh, this may be an unpopular opinion but part of the reason I might not continue is also because I cannot stand the themesong by Joyce Cheng. The tune is fine, not so much her singing.)

Moonlight Resonance

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I love the poster. It’s quite crowded, but then again, I didn’t expect anything less. I also may be biased because purple’s my favourite colour, heh. The trailers have gotten me all hyped up so far. I just worry about it production value-wise because it was so rushed to be in time for the Mid-Autumn Festival. Didn’t they just finish filming about a month ago or something?

I enjoyed Heart of Greed, so obviously I have high hopes for this one. So many of my favourites are in here – Moses, Tavia, Raymond, Bosco, Michelle, Wayne. Can’t wait to watch all the veterans in action again too. This time round, some of the rest have also grown on me – Linda, Fala, Chris. Let’s see if Fala handles acting a disability better than Kate in Speech of Silence. I do wish they’d kept Yoyo, though. First, she had a much reduced role in Forensic Heroes II, and now completely ignored for Moonlight Resonance. Poor thing.

Will Moonlight surpass its predecessor, the ratings-darling Heart of Greed? Guess we’ll all find out really really soon.

What’s been on your playlist? Are you watching Love Exchange or Speech of Silence? Are you anticipating Moonlight Resonance?

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The Wrap Up: Forensic Heroes II

3 Jul
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Forensic Heroes II/”Fatt Cheng Sin Fung II”/法證先鋒II
Genre: Modern Drama/Investigation
Release Date: 19th May 2008, 9:30 p.m.
Episodes: 30
Producer: Mui Siu Ching
Scriptwriters: Chan Ching Yee & Choy Ting Ting
Cast: 

Bobby Au Yeung Chan Wah – Tim Ko Yin Pok
Frankie Lam Man Lung – Sam Koo Chak Sum
Kevin Cheng Ka Wing – Ivan Yeung Yat Sing
Charmaine Sheh Sze Man – Bell Ma Kwok Ying
Yoyo Mung Ka Wai – Leung Siu Yau
Raymond Cho Wing Lim – Sum Hung/”Ah Sum”
Florence Kwok Siu Wan – Yvonne Mok Suk Wan
Fred Cheng Chun Wan – Leung Siu Kong/”Kong Chai”
Oscar Leung Lit Wai – “Ah Sing”
Matthew Ko Kwan Yin – Wilson
Vivien Yeo Sau Wai – Josie
Eddie Li Yu Yeung – “Sek Chai”
Macy Chan Mei Sze – Formula Fong Miu Na
Kara Hui Ying Hung – Ah Lin, Bell’s mother
Rosanne Lui Shan – Connie Yeung Sau Koon/”Connie Jeh”
Law Lok Lam – Bell’s father
Angelina Lo Yuen Yan – Bell’s annoying stepmother
Yu Yeung – Siu Yau & Kong Chai’s father
Stephen Huynh – Ben Ma Kwok Wan

Others:

Linda Chung Ka Yan – Lam Ding Ding
Astrid Chan Chi Ching – Lam Pui Pui
Savio Tsang Wai Kuen – Matt Hui Lap Yan
Ben Wong Chi Yin
Jack Wu Lok Yin
Charles Szeto Shui Kei
Joe Yau
Lei Seng Cheung
Lam King Kong
Lee Ka Ding
Poon Fong Fong
Stephen Wong Ka Lok
Shirley Yeung Sze Kei – Sharon Kwok Hiu Lam
Sam Chan Yu Sum
Ip Hoi Yan
Ram Tseung Chi Kwong
Kwok Fung
Chris Lai Lok Yi – Lee Chi Wai
Selena Li Sze Wan – Cat Lee Kiu
Leanne Li Yat Nam – Annie
Shermon Tang Sheung Man – Mabel Mui
Sharon Luk Sze Wan – Cherry Miu
Queena Chan Dan Dan
Otto Chan
Benjamin Yuen
Sharon Chan Man Chi

Note: I missed Forensic Heroes I when it was showing here, so I pretty much have nothing to base the sequel upon. Hence, this review is based on someone who’s totally new to the FH world. Oh, and spoilers ahead!

*Special thanks to TVB Guide, TVB Musings, TVB.com and Astro on Demand for the pretty screenies.


The Good

Bobby Au-Yeung

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People get so used referring to Bobby as a comedic actor, that it’s sometimes easy to remember just how fantastic of an all-rounder he is. Sure, he’s had such an impressive body of work, but for some reason people immediately think of him as a comic first and foremost. Forensic Heroes showcases his versatility once again, proving that Bobby Au Yeung can do professional, rational, calm and intelligent as well.

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Oh look, it’s Tim Sir handling crime scene investigations… with the trusty Fred as Kong Chai!

He’s what I call a character actor because there’s such distinction and such a real-ness he gives Tim Sir, through and through. He was fantastic as the indispensible, confident Tim Sir. The finesse with which he handled each case, at each crime scene was great fun to watch. What was even better is that he had chemistry with the entire cast. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean.

Yoyo Mung

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Pre explosion: Madam Leung still in charge, Ding Ding still alive. And hello BFFs, Fred and Oscar!

It was a terrible shame that she was only in barely half the series because I loved her scenes. Yoyo is once again effective as the tough as nails policewoman as she was in The Ultimate Crime Fighter. Classily confident and devoted as Madam Leung, Yoyo commanded the pre-accident scenes she was in as the leader of the crime unit. But what impressed me the most were her emotional scenes that came after.

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Brilliantly played and possibly my favourite Tim/Siu Yau scene (unforunately not that there were loads to choose from) in the entire series. There was such much emotion, hurt, anger – all at once – all of which were displayed splendidly by Yoyo (and Bobby too, might I add). Yoyo is always splendid as the tough, opinionated woman, but it’s lovely to see a vulnerable side to her characters because she sure can pull it off. First class.

Charmaine Sheh

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Someone pinch me because I really never ever thought I’d see the day I would’ve said this. I was never a fan of Charmaine (I blame her awful performance as Man Yun Lan in DIF IV) and would generally avoid a series that she was headlining (unless of course, it’s a grand ensemble series with many other stars i.e. The Drive of Life and this series here). To my surprise, after some initial dislike for Madam Ma, I started to be neutral about her, especially once the icy facade started melting. Her good acting started to show from about midpoint onwards. Smart and strong-willed, yet filial and easygoing when her guard is down, Charmaine did great in the difficult part of Madam Ma.

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Charmaine with her on-screen mother, Kara Hui – they were a great mother-daughter combo
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And I really have to commend Charmaine on her crying scenes; they used to be pretty awful, but they’ve gotten so much better now. I wonder if I would have liked her character so much if I had watched the first Forensic instalment, however.

Kevin Cheng & Charmaine Sheh

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Now, this was also completely and utterly unexpected. I didn’t like Charmaine. I didn’t like Kevin. (As you can guess, I wasn’t jumping for joy that year at the TVB Anniversary Awards) I didn’t even think they looked good together. Now, this could potentially be one of my favourite couplings of the year, surprisingly. I still can’t be called a fan of either, but I loved everything about Ivan and Bell. First of all, I suppose it was “fresh”, for me at least. Plucking two halves from the popular Kevin/Niki and Charmaine/Raymond fanbases proved to hit the jackpot. And then there was the story.

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Ivan sneaks a look at Bell.

As a self-admitted sucker for saccharine storylines and sweetness, there was absolutely no doubt that I’d love their story. It was sweet, touching. Adorable, even. The optimistic, dreamy, playful Ivan was exactly what workaholic, uptight, sassy Bell needed. He balanced her out perfectly, and opened her heart to love again.

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Some people might argue that Sam understood Bell more, and possibly connected with her on a very intellectual level, but I beg to differ. I truly believe that part of the connection that arose between them was the fact that they could identify with each other, with the fact that they both had their loved ones die right in front of their eyes.

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To me, it was with Ivan where Bell looked the happiest. She absolutely glowed.

Brotherhood

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I loved each and every single scene involving the three suave leading men. Bobby, Frankie and Kevin were a joy to watch together, be it after hours joking at Tim Sir and Sam‘s place, or collaborating in a professional capacity during the day. The way they worked off each other was extremely believable.

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Even more enjoyable for me was the strong “heng tai” bond between Kevin‘s Ivan and Frankie‘s Sam. The two shared a formidable chemistry, so much so that you actually believed they were best of friends that went way back. The witty exchanges between the both of them made such a big part of the series for me.

The chemistry between the cast

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Hi Fred and Oscar!

Chemistry between all cast members in such a big ensemble drama like this is so important, and Forensic Heroes II definitely had it in oodles. Like said before, the camaraderie between the three men was top-notch.

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The five main characters had great scenes hanging out too, but what I truly loved were the complete police teams and forensic teams. Their scenes were comfortable and funny and truly believable.

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The police team steamboat scenes were always funny, as were the “party” scenes where both teams would join up for some fun.


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Raymond
and Florence were great as supporting characters, while Vivien, Oscar, Eddie, Matthew, Macy and Fred, although all not that strong of actors yet, gelled really well together in their scenes with Bobby, Yoyo, Frankie, Kevin and Charmaine.

Selena Li

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Selena Li was absolutely brilliant in the final wrap-up case as the tough, smart, protective Cat Lee. I became a fan after watching her nice performance in The Master of Tai Chi and after Forensic Heroes II, it really sealed the deal for me. Selena’s performance was definitely the best out of all the guest-stars, and what was even more impressive is that she more than held her own in scenes opposite Charmaine‘s Madam Ma, which made for good explosive confrontations. She also had some good scenes with Frankie and I actually thought she would’ve made an interesting love interest for Sam.

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What bugged me, besides her weird flippy fringe, was the fact that she practically disappeared after her brother died, and she had that conversation with Bell about Sam, of course, conveniently heard by Ivan. Some closure would’ve been nice.

Raymond Cho & Florence Kwok

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You had to have seen this coming from a hundred miles away. It was bound to happen with the bickering that was going on, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. Raymond and Florence, while both turning in great supporting performances as the seniors in their respective teams, also shone opposite one another in their love-hate relationship. Raymond was hilarious as the egotistical crass bachelor, yet brave and loyal police officer while Florence was perfect as the dignified, classy and intelligent Yvonne. Brought closer because of a freak accident, the scenes of Yvonne motivating and cultivating Ah Shum were extra funny. Definitely the comic relief couple of the series.

The Veterans

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Kara Hui was great as Bell‘s sweet mother, as was the dependable Law Lok Lam who always gives a solid performance. Angelina Lo was completely the part of the evil witchy “high-class” stepmother, while Rosanne Lui was fun throughout the whole series as the kitchen-whiz. Yu Yeung and cute old uncle with the strong accent were really funny as the overprotective, grandchildren-craving fathers of Tim and Siu Yau too. All round, great jobs by these veterans. The series would have been a lesser one if not for them.

The Okay

Frankie Lam

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I was toying between Frankie in the Good category or in the Okay category and ended up putting him here after ages deliberating. I’ve never really enjoyed Frankie as an actor (except maybe in Down Memory Lane which is my first memory of him) and thought him rather cardboard for ages. Here, in Forensic Heroes II, he has his exceptional moments but still has some rather dull ones.

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I was honestly surprised and very impressed with the range of emotions he showed when Ding Ding passed away. There was so much hurt, so much anguish with which he delivered his lines and in his expressions. This is where he really earns my respect as an actor.

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He also shone in scenes opposite Bobby and Kevin. Once again, the camaraderie these three cooked up were one of the highlights of the show for me. Of course, when Linda‘s Ding Ding was still alive, Frankie did perfect too. The two of them were so sweet and adorable together. At other times however, I really felt nothing much from him again. Yes, he’s smart. Yes, he’s a gifted novelist. Yes, he’s a fantastic pathologist. And that was about as dimensional as it got.

I’m not saying he was awful because everyone knows that he’s far from it. Just that personally, I thought he paled in comparison to the other more charismatic leads, which is why he falls under Okay.

Kevin Cheng

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I have to say, this has to be one of the most dramatic appearances by a character ever on a TVB series.

A more consistent performance than Frankie, but Kevin had no major fantastic scenes, nor did he have any complete duds. I enjoyed watching him because he brought the humour to the scenes he was in and because he played such a wholesomely likeable character but at the end of the day, after thinking about it, he actually just only put in a very nice, normal performance as the very charming, very optimistic, boyish Ivan.

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I was rather surprised, however, with the good comedic timing he delivered his wise-cracks with; didn’t really think he had it in him before this. Like I said above, I really did enjoy him with Charmaine and the other guys though.

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While he’s oh-so-good-looking and charming, that still isn’t enough for me to tip him over to the higher category. Get any better looking, Kevin, and I just might the next time around.

The Cases

The cases weren’t all that. Because I had heard such high praises of the first Forensic Heroes, I expected fantastic, gripping cases. I didn’t get that. Some of the cases were completely random, some I enjoyed, like the psycho preying on disabled individuals and the kidnapping of Stephen Huynh. Nothing that is Untraceable Evidence material, and of course, not even near CSI. Just okay.

Also what kind of annoyed me with the cases was that most of them were related to the cast themselves. I know to expect a low level of reality with TVB, but seriously, a gang leader Sam and Ivan hit fifteen years ago? Ding Ding dying in an explosion? Pui Pui‘s husband being killed in pretty much a freak occurence? Siu Yau first getting involved in the explosion and then attacked by a psycho in a dark alley? Bell‘s stepbrother getting kidnapped? A murder coincidentally where and when the entire police and forensic teams are having a “war game”? Cat Lee being Sam‘s classmate from university? What is it, in the water they serve in Kowloon or something?

The two cases were just rather random, what with the both of them being found in the war gam premise. The first one with Charles Szeto was just pretty horrible, what with the motive for killing being a dog. Charles Szeto’s acting is still as atrocious as ever. The second one was a little better and served as the introduction of Madam Ma (with the faithful Wilson as the sidekick!) although her entrance was majorly corny. Slow-motioned, ripping of the dress, dripping wet with rain. Heh. Seriously? Jack Wu wasn’t bad as the clown-cum-murderer in that case.

Pui Pui (Astrid Chan) and her husband’s (Savio Tsang) case was pretty touching, if not also random. Is that not the worse way to die, killed by a pimple-squirting, greasy-haired petty thief in such a freak accident way?

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With the case of Song Kau, with the random connection to Ivan and Sam thrown in for suspense, it was rather obvious the moment Stephen Wong arrived, that he would be the murderer. I have to say that Stephen‘s improved a little more with his dramatic acting. He wasn’t bad in the confession scene.

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Now, this one with the psychotic hairdresser preying on disabled girls, I really enjoyed. The psycho was brilliantly played – once again this bit part actor does a great job. He looked crazy, possessed even. I was really confused when Bob from Steps (I can’t remember his name, but even if I did, I think he’s forever going to remain Bob from Steps or Kai Hung to me, lol.) got killed though, because he didn’t fit the trend, so this case baffled me more than the others. This one really had me on the edge of my seat.

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Shirley as pop princess Kwok Hiu Lam, Sharon

The whole Shirley case just felt like a whole lot of time wasted. And also, Shirley was good acting as the two-faced Sharon, but didn’t it feel familiar? She acted the exact same way as Sung Ka Yee in The Brink of Law. The first time it was great, fresh, applaud-worthy. The second time round here, it felt rather recycled. And how come Sam Chan actually got worse with his acting?

The case involving Ram Tseung wasn’t all that, although I did enjoy the way Tim Sir deduced that the little boy was hiding in the cupboard.

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I think this was my favourite case. First of all, I have to applaud Chris Lai. I didn’t know he could pull of something like that, especially the rooftop scene. Yes, it was obvious that the culprit would be Chris, but the execution and flow of the case, I really enjoyed. Exciting stuff. Very well played by all the other actors involved too – Charmaine, Angelina, Law Lok Lam, Kara.

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The “beautiful bodies” case, as I like to call it, was rather interesting, but probably devised so that TVB could once again parade off their pageant kings and queens. Benjamin Yuen and Otto Chan really served no other purpose other than being eye candy for the ladies. Which, I really really beg to differ because neither of them are attractive to me. Give me Fred and Oscar and even Eddie Li any day. The acting by the three ladies were really not yet up to par; Shermon Tang was the best of them. And am I the only one who doesn’t find Sharon Luk very attractive? I don’t get the TVB hype about her.

It was rather interesting, because this was another case that baffled me. I kept on switching focus as to who I thought the murderer was, but then all the actresses just started falling like dead flies. Heh. I thought it was the assistant, Rosa, for the longest time ever.

Oh, and the first case where Debby died of dietting? That felt extremely disjointed.

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Hello again, Fred! 

But random stuff aside, I did like all the on-the-scene activities. The forensic team going around collecting evidence, the police taking down statements; those were fun to watch.

The Bad

Queena Chan as Cheuk Lam

Queena Chan (and her eyebrows) played the murderer in the final case, murdering Annie (Leannie Li), Cherry (Sharon Luk), Mabel (Shermon Tang) and plotting to kill Ivan and Bell. She was absolutely terrible. Not only did she not deliver her lines with conviction, she punctuated each and every sentence of hers with a raise of her eyebrows. Gosh. “The bad” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Formula

No, not Macy Chan. I actually thought Macy Chan did very well for her debut. Very natural. What bugs is the “English” name they gave her. TVB has got to stop doing this to me. Fong Miu Na and hence, Formula? Pssh. This wins hands down for worst TVB “English” name of the 21st century.

The Random

Yes, I know I’ve mentioned the word ‘random‘ hundreds of times already in just one post, but there’s actually more!

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Matthew Ko and Macy Chan as Wilson and Formula

This was just really kind of random, throwing the both of them together. There wasn’t all that much progression except for that funny scene where Wilson kinda fumbles everything up and starts spouting nonsense because he got nervous in front of Formula.

Sharon Chan

The funniest thing is that Sharon Chan has been appearing at the FHII promotions and even has a spot in the themevideo, but she only appears in the finale for all of three seconds as a cliched potential “love interest” for Sam complete with the bejewelled sneakers and curly pigtails. Severe under-usage. Sharon would’ve been so fantastic as either the killer or one of the three actresses in the final case. Oh well, I guess they’re leaving the ends open for the third installment. Although, knowing TVB, Frankie might not even be in the third one at the rate they’re writing off original cast these days.

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This picture is here because it looks kinda cool. My turn to be random.

The Overall

I didn’t really get what I expected from this series. I heard hoards of praises for Forensic Heroes I. Everyone talked about it, it had high ratings, and it seemed like the whole world enjoyed it. Naturally, I expected more from FHII. Of course there was the necessary suspense, the necessary big action scenes for a series of this genre. However, the cases weren’t all that, to be perfectly honest. There’s was a such a high level of predictability that it really wasn’t that fun anymore. I miss the days of the Detective Investigation Files series where the whodunnits weren’t ever that obvious.

However, what the series lacked in quality material, it had in good main character acting. I thought the main five (even if Yoyo was missing for about two thirds of the series and didn’t have much to for half of the remaining third) carried the series rather well. They were also well supported by the supporting cast. On the other hand, some of the case actors left a lot to be desired, especially Queena Chan.

I didn’t appreciate the preachy parts, though. Most of the time it felt like a PSA (Public Service Announcement) shoved down my throat i.e. Formula telling someone the right way to dispose of a dead dog, Formula again telling an old uncle not to pick up food randomly off of the ground because it’s dirty, etc.) Looks like Formula‘s their spokesperson.

Definitely, watch if you’re a Kevin or Charmaine fan. You won’t be disappointed with their screen-time. Bobby as usual shines, but it doesn’t really feel like he has much space given to him for character development outside of work. I suppose it was already well-developed enough in the prequel. Also watch if all you’re looking for is some suspense and action, and you like watching a star-studded cast; there are tons of guest appearances by other famous TVB artistes in the cases.

If you want something more than just that, then I recommend Catch Me Now instead, which is a better series from every angle.

Lessons Learnt:

Aviator sunnies are a must have if you want to be a forensic scientist or a policeman. If you don’t possess a pair, you’re as well as off the team.

Madam Leung is a very busy individual, so much so that she does not have time to comb her hair.

If you are a policewoman or a pathologist or a forensic scientist, be very very careful. Also, keep your family and loved ones behind locked doors. Because evidence (and remember, in the wise, age-old broken-record words of Tim Sir, people lie but evidence never does) shows that odds are you’ll be investigating a case related to you or your loved ones.

Do not name your daughter Pui Pui, especially if your surname is Lam. She will lead quite a sad life.

Go ahead and place tables and chairs on the open rooftops of buildings and leave them there. It never rains in Hong Kong, don’t worry.

Videos of Youtube quality can be zoomed into about fifteen times or so with the equipment available in Hong Kong. So, not to worry if the tooth fairy hasn’t come just yet for that tooth you lost during a boxing match. She just hasn’t met Tim Sir and gang yet.

The one program every forensic lab needs. Nothing fancy – Windows Media Player.

Got that? You’ve just won a place to be a guest star in Forensic Heroes III. Nothing fancy of course, you’ll probably just be a fainted clown that Tim Sir will trip over while stopping to reload his paintball gun with pellets because he actually can’t see very well with aviators, just that he wears them anyway cause they’re cool.

I kid.

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What did you guys think about the Forensic Heroes sequel? Did it live up to your expectations? Did you too play “Spot the Fred” like I did throughout the whole series? Which instalment was better? I’m dying to hear your opinions. Should I watch the first one?

It Takes Two, HK-Style.

11 Sep

Hey everyone! Wow. It’s been ages since I’ve updated and I sincerely apologise for that. I’ve been really, really busy with uni recently. Second year of uni is really catching up with me, and assignment after assignment has basically sucked up any semblance I have of a social life, let alone be fascinated by the TVB world. Thankfully, after slogging day and night, I finally handed in my final assignment for the semester and have time to take a breather before cramming for finals in early November. But enough of that boring stuff, I’m sure you guys don’t want to hear about my sordid uni-life. And, I’m pretty sure you all are sick of coming here (that is, if you all even come here anymore) and seeing the Moses/Bernice fanfic on the top of the page. Lol.

P/S: I’m going to take this opportunity to thank everyone for all their lovely compliments and feedback on the Moses/Bernice fic. You all really made my day.

But well, without further ado, to this feature. It’s something I’ve been planning for quite some time now, but just never got the chance to write. I’m a music junkie, admittedly, but never really quite got into HK-pop until this year. I understand spoken Cantonese, but not in the context of song lyrics or poems, so I guess that’s the main reason. However, I do find that HK-pop songs have great melodies, and am trying to learn the lyrics and understand them now. That’s one of the reasons behind his post.

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It Takes Two; HK-Style.

It Takes Two is an Australian singing competition that aired about two months ago on free TV. It’s not your everyday run-of-the-mill singing competition. Instead, it has singers pairing up with local celebrities from every field. The recent season of It Takes Two had homegrown vocal talents paired up with various stars ranging from actresses, to radio DJs, comedians and even a swimmer. The singers will guide and the non-singers through the weeks and are in charge of song choice, key, choreography amongst other aspects. Each week, pairs will compete with each other, singing different themes, to avoid elimination. Results are made out of 50% judges scores and 50% from the public’s SMS votes.

TVB and the various record companies in Hong Kong have always had collaborations not only in concerts, but they have had the singers hosting and acting as well. At the same time, TVB has an uncanny habit of pushing their actors to sing even if they possess no singing ability whatsoever. It’s a chance for them to give their new and upcoming stars a chance for recognition and get some vocal training from the singers in the process. Here’s who I would pick and pair them with, if there really was such a competiton:

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Chris Lai Lok Yi, 27, & Niki Chow Lai Kei, 28 

 

Why him? Chris has been given loads of chances as of late what with Heart of Greed, then The Green Grass of Home, and most recently as bad-boy-turned-good Ben Lui in Fathers and Sons, all of which did well ratings-wise. Of course, the least promoted amongst the Olympics star alumni, it might finally be his chance to shine. TVB love all their lead male actors to sing, and this might be the one extra step Chris needs on his way to a higher status in TVB.

Why with Niki? For some reason, Chris reminds me of one of those popular guys back in high school who’s popular and yet gets along with everybody. He seems to have a friendly, easygoing demeanour, which matches Niki’s wholesome, healthy, girl-next-door image. He’s tall, dark and handsome too, which makes him look very compatible with Niki. (Sorry, Kevin/Niki fans, I couldn’t possibly choose Kevin for this feature, since he’s definitely already got all the promotion in the world).

Theme they might excel in: The ‘pop’ week. I can really imagine these two singing a very happy, upbeat poppy song in my mind.

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Fala Chen Fa La, 25, & Justin Lo, 31 

 

Why her? Fala has been a rumour magnet since early on, and only of late has she been creating an image for herself for something other than a just a pretty face with a nice body. TVB has given her plenty of chances, and there is no doubt that if they were to do something like this, Fala would definitely be on the list. They’ve already proven she can dance with casting her in Steps, why not prove that she can sing too?

Why with Justin? Justin seems like he has a rather outgoing and funny personality. Fala also seems like she’s very communicative and fun-loving. Plus, both are natural born performers. Justin has oodles of charisma while he’s on stage, and Fala moves very gracefully with her dancing, and also just has a very magnetic presence. Also, based on both of their overseas upbringing, I think they could be a good pair together.

Theme they might excel in: The ‘English’ week. I know it might be an unfair advantage to the both of them if there was an English week, but quite frankly, I’m rather sick of hearing awful English in TVB series. Case in point, Francis Ng‘s in TITS. With TVB having their characters, especially the ‘professional’ ones, speak in English, there’s no reason their actors/actresses should start to learn how to sing in English too.

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Fred Cheng Chun Wan, 24, & Kary Ng Yu Fei, 21 

 

Why him? It’s no secret that I like Fred. And I’m probably not the only one, or rather, I hope I’m not the only one. He’s one of the few of the new generation actors whom I actually like and think has potential to be developed further. He’s easy on the eyes, and I find that his charisma translates very well from the screen. But what really made me choose him for this, was that he was actually found after coming in second in the 2001 TVB New Talent Singing Contest. With already the singing ability, this might be the boost he needs to move beyond his bit roles.

Why with Kary? Kary’s a chameleon, in my opinion. She’s pretty flexible with various genres, having gone the complete pop route with Cookies, and then a slightly rockier sound with Ping Pung after that. She could probably pair up with a lot of different people, but for some reason or other, I think Fred and her could get along pretty well together, as Fred seems to have a very fun-loving personality, just like she does.

Theme they might excel in: The ‘rock’ week. Kary’s got a sweet voice, but there’s also that extra edge to it that’s good for rock songs. Fred also looks like he could rock out, I can just imagine him really getting into a rock song, I don’t know why.

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Jack Wu Lok Yin, 30, & Fiona Sit Hoi Kei, 26 

 

Why him? To be honest, Jack has impressed me since I first saw him in Net Deception. He’s a lot more natural than some of his peers and I was disappointed that he never got another role as significant as his one in Net Deception ever again. He’s also released a few albums back in the day when he had floppy boyband-ish hairstyles. And now he just needs to show TVB that he’s still got what it takes and that he’s still got that voice.

Why with Fiona? Fiona, although having reports about her being diva-like, seems very easy to get along with after watching some interviews of her. With her being so physically tested for her for her first TVB series, The Academy, and Jack having to put on so much weight for To Grow With Love, the both of them seem to be have a commendable work ethic, which might enable them to work together easily. They do look rather compatible together too.

Theme they might excel in: Since this would be a TVB production, I’m pretty sure they would have a week where the pairs have to sing themesongs from popular TVB series. That is one week which I think Jack and Fiona would do well in, what with both of them having acted in series and Jack having been with TVB for such a long time.

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Matthew Ko Kwan Yin, 23, & Ella Koon Yan Na, 28 

 

Why him? He doesn’t float my boat, but I have to admit, his fanbase is growing day by day. He’s young, and tall and most would say, handsome. And TVB absolutely loves him. He’s getting mega-promotion these days, as well as larger roles as time progresses. His name can only get more popular after Steps shows. He’s definitely TVB’s new current It-boy, and they even had him showcased his singing and musical abilities in To Grow With Love; that is reason enough for me to put him in here.

Why with Ella? Matthew, in my honest opinion, isn’t a very strikingly masculine actor (I can feel rocks coming my way from crazy fangirls already). However, there’s this slightly flamboyant side to him, and he does have quite a bit of stage presence, so I think he will be a rather good performer. Who better to pair him with than the super-sultry Ella Koon?

Theme they might excel in: The 40’s week. I can totally imagine them doing a song from the same period as Christina Aguilera’s Candyman was modelled after. With both of them being such natural performers and comfortable with dancing and being on stage compared to some of the other pairs, I think they could come in tops for this theme.

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Natalie Tong Sze Wing, 26, & Kenny Kwan Chi Bun, 26

Why her? Simply because she’s one of TVB’s upcoming young actresses. I think she’s got great potential, and I honestly am a fan of hers, but she still lacks the it factor. She’s carved the girl-next-door, bubbly image for herself, and while that got Tavia Yeung great places, it doesn’t look like it will do the same for her. She’s been doing some sexy photoshoots recently, but she’s still waiting for her breakthrough role. Hopefully The Seventh Day will do that for her, but until then, she needs something like this to showcase the other sides of her personality and her talent.

Why with Kenny? No particular reason, really. They seem like they could get along, and these two pictures that I’ve chosen to put together really match. It’s just one of those things that feel right. Natalie’s also had chances to collaborate with many young male artists in their music videos before, so she should be able to get along with Kenny pretty well.

Theme they might excel in: The R&B week. Kenny strikes me as the soulful, yet sleek R&B type, a little bit like what Ne-Yo might do, and seems like he might even be able to bust out some rapping. He also places R&B maestro, Wang Lee Hom amongst his idols while Natalie lists the other R&B great, Jay Chou, as her favourite. Might they be able to emulate their idols’ success in this theme? I think it’s possible.

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Selena Li Sze Wan, 26, & Patrick Tang Kin Wan, 33 

 

Why her? Selena Li has really grown on me after watching To Grow With Love. For me, she and Jack Wu were the highlight of the show. Everything was rather pretty trashy. But, I digress. Being named as one of the 10 top next fadans by Ms. Lok, and singled out to be in one of the more anticipated filmings of the year, The Four Great Constables, can only mean one thing – the company favours you, and they favour you greatly. To mould her into the next top actress, she’s already go the look, TVB has made sure she can act, and I’m sure they want her to be able to sing and dance as well.

Why with Patrick? I’m sure everyone has heard of the Patrick/Selena rumours by now. That’s part of the reason why I paired them together, because they were cute together in Just Love. Patrick’s also just came back to TVB recently, and while he was given some interesting roles to play in the past, they’re gonna want to promote him more, and this can be best achieved by pairing him up with the most highly-rated actress amongst this lot. Plus, I really think Patrick has a great voice.

Theme they might excel in: The ‘acoustic’ week. After watching the All About Men concert, I thought Patrick sounded really good when they stripped the music down and focused on the strumming of the acoustic guitar. It was just rather simple music and a nice voice and enthusiasm from Patrick. With his experience, I’m sure he can guide Selena to excel in the same theme too.

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Stephen Wong Ka Lok, ?, & Stephy Tang Lai Yan, 24 

 

Why him? Why with Stephy? To be very honest, it was an elimination process. I had singled out five male singers and five female singers that I wanted to include in this feature. Some I had already paired them up with their respective TVB artists when I chose them. Stephy, however, I couldn’t find anyone whom I thought would match her well enough, unfortunately. I had Joel Chan and Charles Szeto in mind for this feature as well, but neither one of them has particularly gotten my liking after watching them in series, and I don’t think either would work well with Stephy. Stephen Wong, on the other hand, also still has a long way to go on his acting, but he gives me a better impression compared to the other two. If I had to choose between the three of them, I’d rather promote Stephen. Besides, Stephen comes off across as very gallant and well-mannered, which I think would go along well with Stephy’s sweet personality. I swear, the fact that their names are Stephen/Stephy had nothing to do with it. Lol.

Theme they might excel in: Songs by the professional singer. It Takes Two had a week where the pairs had to tackle a song which the singer made famous, and one of the pairs had to sing The Prayer, while another had to sing a Spanish opera song, because they were songs that their partner had made famous. Thankfully, Stephy’s songs are very melodic and catchy, and aren’t difficult to sing. Hence, it should be fairly easy for Stephen to catch on and for them to harmonise together.

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Tracy Ip Chui Chui, 26, & Deep Ng Ho Hong, 24 

 

Why her? I can’t read Mandarin to save my life (and am hoping TVBSpace comes back soon so that I can get my fix of TVB news in English!) but I go to TVB Chinese News just to look at the latest pictures, and over the past two weeks, I’ve seen so many events that feature Tracy. It’s about time too, as Kate Tsui‘s Miss HK successor, since TVB has already given Kate significant supporting roles and recently, the lead female rold in The Four Great Constables. Tracy’s acting actually isn’t half bad, I liked her over Carrie Lam in Heart of Greed. TVB have also had her singing at events lately, so without a doubt, she’d be on this show if they were to do it.

Why with Deep? Out of all the male singers here, Deep has the most masculine, strong image, which I think would match Tracy’s tall and elegant persona the best. For some reason, I can picture them having really good chemistry.

Theme they might excel in: The ‘Greatest Love Songs of All Time’ week. Like, I said, I can imagine them having amazing chemistry on stage. It takes that very same chemistry to be able to pull off singing a good love song, and I think the both of them can do it. Deep’s also got a great voice for love songs that can make girls go weak in the knees.

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Vin Choi Kei Chun, 23, & Janice Wei Lan, 25

Why him? I didn’t think he was fabulous in Brink of Law, but he’s been apparently getting good reviews for his role in Best Selling Secrets. Already getting a huge fanbase since his Sunshine Heartbeat days, and backing from TVB, what with him being on the TVB calendars and all, he’d be on this in a heartbeat (no pun intended) if this competition were to materialise.

Why with Janice? Janice has a great personality, along with tons of passion and zest for her music, and that really shines through when she sings and performs. While this might seem like an unlikely pairing, I get the feeling that her enthusiasm could be just what is needed to coax the suave-looking Vin out of his shell and to embrace whatever musical inclinations that he might have.

Theme they might excel in: The jazz song week. Jazz is such a great genre, and although it’s never been showcased much in the HK music world, I think it would be a good theme to have. Jazz songs aren’t easy to sing, but with Janice’s great vocals, both of them should be able to tackle it fairly easily. I can also imagine Vin being very Michael Buble-ish, so that’s an added plus.

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Vivien Yeo Sau Wai, 23, & Hins Cheung King Hin, 26

Why her? After Selena, I’d say she’s the next highly promoted actress in this group. Her roles are getting more and more significant with the most recent one in the famous sequel to War of In-Laws, and I have to say she’s getting better. Her Cantonese has improved since her pageant days, and her image has gotten more refined. Coupled with her piano-playing skills and her spot on the Lady in Red compilation, you know that TVB wants to push her to sing.

Why with Hins? Although her Cantonese has gotten better, her first language is still Mandarin. With Hins’ Mandarin album releases, I can only assume that he’s proficient in the language. Having said that, it will then be easier for him to coach and guide her through this competition. Hins is an excellent live singer and performer, and I’m sure he’ll be able to lead her past the language barrier and improve her singing.

Theme they might excel in: The Mandarin song week. If there was a week for singing in Mandarin, they’d probably come out top, hands down, based on pronounciation.

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Yoyo Chen Chi Yiu, ?, & Alex Fong Lik Sun, 27


Why her?
I actually thought she was pretty decent in Brink of Law as Steven’s bitchy sister, at the very least she conveyed emotion a lot better than many of the newcomer actresses. After that, she landed herself a spot on Best Selling Secrets, and I thought that would help her a lot in her acting career. Unfortunately, the whole scandal happened, and I heard she’s been written out of BSS since. Such a shame, because I think she had potential and was doing well up to that point. Her quiet, meek role in Phoenix Rising had also impressed me. While I’m not sure if she’s been frozen, I’d really like to hear her sing and overcome the whole scandal thing at the same time, which is why I put her in here.

Why with Alex? They both have that cute, youthful image despite their ages, which makes me think that they’ll look good on stage together. Also, Alex reminds me a lot of the young Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys. Squeaky-clean, good-boy image. Which could be just what Yoyo needs, someone who’s never had a history of notoriety or been involved in scandalous happenings. You can never go wrong with the Prince of Pop.

Theme they might excel in: The ‘Famous Duets’ week. Alex, as you all probably know, is the King of Duets, what with his constantly duetting with Stephy and other female singers as well. This shows he already has had experience with harmonising and collaborating with a female voice, so he should be able to help Yoyo pull off this theme with ease. I think they would sound really great singing ‘Kei Nim Yat‘ by Ronald Cheng and Kelly Chen.

What do you guys think of this concept? Unfortunately, there might be a lot of many barriers in the way. There’s no knowing if TVB could spare so many of their young actors and actresses away from filming for two-three months. At the same time, I don’t know if the singers and their record companies would be willing to give their consent for this concept. After all, nobody wants to be voted out first – it has a bigger impact when you’re already a celebrity. There’s also the problem of the singers being from different record companies; I don’t know how that would go down with them. The paparazzi would have a field day with all the male-female pairings. 

I really liked the Australian version of it, and hope that there could be a Hong Kong version as well. Let’s just pretend that there really was such a competition – which newcomers would you all like competing? Which singers? Who would you pair up with whom? Do you like or dislike my choices?

The Tangled Web of TVB; #1.

11 Jul

TVB and the entertainment industry in Hong Kong is a big Asian market, and what with the dozens of series filmed a year and the hundreds of interviews and promotions their actors and actresses carry out to promote their series and their personal commitments to sponsors, you can be sure many relationships and ties will be forged. Put that together with the awfully innovative pens and magically cropped pictures of the dog-eat-dog HK paparazzi, you can be sure that these relationships will be completely spiced up. The supposed relationships and rumours that these people conjure up make up such a big part of the industry, that I couldn’t not have a section covering these interesting partnerships and bonds.

The Tangled Web of TVB will be an ongoing feature (or rather, I hope it’ll be) in this blog featuring the many different relationships between artistes and/or characters that occur, be it through coincidence, things they could have in common, mutual friends or just an interesting little tidbit that I have to share about these artistes.

Today’s first article, might not be as meaty a piece as what you might have been hoping for (mainly because I don’t possess the imagination which the HK reporters do, lol), but it’s a very interesting tidbit which I’ve realised just recently.


The Tangled Web of TVB; #1: The Common Factor


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In 2003, it was Triumph in the Skies that shot this group of four young, intelligent pilots into stardom. After the series aired, all eyes were on these four relatively new actors. Dubbed S4, short for ‘Solar 4’, by netizens, Ron Ng Cheuk Hei, Sammul Chan Kin Fung, Bosco Wong Chung Chak and Kenneth Ma Kwok Ming were the hot male newcomers of TVB.

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The following year, TVB named six young male artists to promote the 2004 Athens Olympics. These were the cream of the crop of young actors, often still labelled the ‘Six Olympic Stars’ until today. The Triumph in the Skies bunch were all named, along with the already-widely-popular Raymond Lam Fung, and the fresh new face in TVB acting class graduate Chris Lai Lok Yi.

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Then, just last year, yet another promotional group was named, this time for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Three out of the ‘Six Olympic Stars’ were retained, and Kevin Cheng Ka Wing was added to the bunch.

Solely based on TVB management and promotional strategy, if you asked me to name you a list of the new generation ‘siu sungs’, it would be these seven.

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The recent World Cup quartet are undoubtedly the most favoured young actors in TVB at the moment. Kevin Cheng winning latest TVB Best Actor award, although I strongly disagreed with the award, and his good looks, coupled with his good relations with TVB executives, definitely puts him in the top four.

As for the other three, it goes without saying. These three would be on the tips of everyone’s tongues, if I had asked you to name me three young, successful TVB actors. The previous winners of the TVB Most Improved Actor award, Raymond, Ron and Bosco have definitely carved quite a name for themselves, being cast in one big production after another. Bosco tops the list with Dicey Business, HOG and Jewel’s Splendour, while Raymond and Ron are both in the Drive of Life, and HOG and Brink of Law respectively.

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Until this year’s TVB Anniversary Awards, Kenneth Ma is still the current holder of the Most Improved Actor award. However, IMO, he does not possess the success and the pizzazz of the other three previous winners just yet, and has not been casted in any such grand productions in a major role.

Sammul Chan is the only one left out of the S4 who hasn’t won that award yet, and while I felt that he deserved it at that point in time before some of them, rumour has it that he hasn’t won because he was not a contracted TVB artist. However, he’s back to filming with TVB, and if I remember correctly, might even have signed on with TVB (could someone please tell me if I’ve gotten this right?), so that’s good for him.

Chris Lai has not been mentioned nearly as much as the others have, but after watching Heart of Greed, and the current screening of The Green Grass of Home, I think it’s safe to say that he’s gaining popularity and should be on this list.

However, that’s not the point of this write-up. What I found most interesting, while making this list, was that there was one thing they all had in common. Obviously, they’re all male, young, promoted by TVB, popular, lusted after by millions of female fans, etc. You get my drift. But there’s one other thing they all have in common with one another.

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That’s right. All seven of these actors have been paired up with the beautiful Leila Tong Ling in numerous series over the years. I don’t know about you, but I found that rather surprising. It might have been expected, being that TVB doesn’t have a very large base of capable young actors and actresses, but however, I would have guessed that it would’ve been Leila. Don’t get me wrong, I love her, but I didn’t know, I would have guessed the female who had co-starred with all seven would have been someone like Myolie.

Here, let’s take a walk down memory lane with Leila and the seven guys.

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Kevin & Leila in Burning Flame II (2002)

This was the first series in which I ever saw Kevin and Leila acting. They’re both extremely easy on the eyes, but their characters seemed too different, and his character Mark was actually using her to get promoted, if I remember correctly. Nevertheless, they did have a few cute scenes together, albeit nothing that memorable. Leila looks so young with her long, straight hair.

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Raymond & Leila in The Last Breakthrough (2004)

Definitely one of my favourite Leila pairings. Ken and Ching Ching were such a lovely couple to watch, from all their bickering, and his blatant flirting with her all the time, and later on, when she realised she loved him, and how she stuck by him and waited for him during his sickness.

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Chris & Leila in Ten Brothers (2005)

I’ve never watched Ten Brothers, just a short promotional trailer and a few clips here and there. I’m not exactly sure if they ended up together, or if they were both in a love triangle with another one of Chris’ brothers in the series. They do look pretty cute together, though.

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Bosco & Leila in Aqua Heroes (2003), The Last Breakthrough (2004) and Life Made Simple (2005)

Three times they’ve worked together, and all three times it was great to watch. Their puppy-love relationship was adorable in Aqua Heroes. In The Last Breakthrough, although I loved Ken and Ching Ching, I have to admit, the Bosco/Leila scenes where he was secretly crushing on her were also great to watch. In Life Made Simple, they both portray the most mature relationship in their partnership on-screen; Leila was a fantastic devious Angel in angel’s clothes (horrible pun intended) who in the end, realised that she had indeed really fallen for Michael. It’s no surprise that this pairing has tons of fans.

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Ron & Leila in Twin of Brothers (2003) and War and Destiny (2006)

I was rooting for Ron & Leila in Twin of Brothers, because there was just that something that I liked about their relationship. I can’t place my finger on it exactly, but I remember liking it. They also look compatible together. I haven’t watched War and Destiny in full, just little bits here and there again, but I really want to because I’ve read some good reviews, it looks rather compelling and Leila apparently plays her most mature role yet, so I really want to catch it. Plus, apparently Ron and Leila’s characters have a very bittersweet relationship in the series, and I’m a sucker for those.

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Sammul & Leila in Bar Benders (2006)

I’ve always wondered if they would ever be paired up in a series together. Both of them are cute and look so youthful, that they would look adorable together. This is definitely one series I want to watch, although Adam Cheng usually annoys me; I’m willing to watch for the Sammul/Leila storyline. Both of them also apparently acted very well in here.

Extra info: I was searching around for pictures for this post last night, and I stumbled across this radio clip where Leila has to call a co-star up and play a prank on him/her. She chooses to call Sammul, and his reaction to it is pretty funny. Click here to hear it!

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Kenneth & Leila in The Family Link (2007)

Haven’t watched this either, although it’s one I’m hyped up about catching. However, I don’t think they look as good together physically, compared to the way Leila matches the rest. They have a pretty large fanbase already, so I’m hoping that they have an abundance of chemistry.

What’s up next? Leila has finished filming in the mainland for The Last Princess, in which she’ll have somewhat of a relationship with Sammul, for the second time. She’s also now in the midst of filming The Hidden Master, where she’ll apparently be paired with Kenneth Ma. Fans of both pairings can rejoice.

Which one is your favourite Leila pairing out of these seven young actors? Who would you like to see her co-star with again?

*Screencaps are from the awesomely comprehensive gallery at Leila-Tong.com. Other pictures from TVB Chinese News Collection and spcnet.tv.

Heart of Greed – At First Glance

1 Jul

I know I said that part 2 of the foreword would be next, but I fully blame it on the addictiveness of TVB. Three words:

Heart. Of. Greed.


So, finally, after so much hype and news about this series, I’ve finally started to give it a go. I had the first twenty episodes in my hard drive, but I refused to start watching because just from its opening theme, you can tell it’s one of those series you just have to continue watching and watching…and watching. Yesterday, I finally got the complete series from a friend of mine, and have been hooked every since.

I enjoyed Brink of Law and Dicey Business, but just after watching nine episodes, I think Heart of Greed is going to trump them both. Why?

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In my opinion, this has got to be one of the best family ensembles that TVB has put together in recent years that I’ve seen. (Other notable mention could possible be the Virtues of Harmony cast, but I didn’t watch that, so this is it for me) If you asked me, I could not think of a better actor to play anyone of the roles. The chemistry is apparent between each and every member, and it is believable. The heart-warming moments are a joy to watch, and the rifts keep me glued to the screen. Kudos, TVB.

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Lee Sze Kei as Ling Hao/Dai Kai

The voice of reason within the family, is a perfect role for Lee Sze Kei’s comeback. She did it so well in Kindred Spirit, and here she is again, only this time the difference between Dai Kai and Kindred Spirit’s Sin Yee, is that Dai Kai is more worldly and the animosity between family members that she has to deal with is on a larger, more dramatic scale than that of Sin Yee’s.

 

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Ha Yue as Tong Yan Kai/Tai Bao

So far, in the other comedy series I’ve seen him in, Ha Yue tends to overact, but here, it actually works in this series and with the script he’s been given. Tong Yan Kai is just a man, with a simple wish- for this family to live harmoniously under one roof. He enjoys the simple pleasures in life, and of course, the occasional abalone. But it’s never so simple, is it? Ha Yue plays Tong Yan Kai, the pushover husband and father so well, that when in the rare moments that Tai Bao actually explodes in anger at his family, it’s great to watch.

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Michelle Yim Mai Shuet as Ling Lei/Lei Yee

I watched Michelle Yim in the ‘Tai Nui Fa‘ drama ages ago with my mother and I felt she was much a better Princess Cheung Ping than Charmaine Sheh was in Perish in the Name of Love. I also remember her in a long-running comedy whose name eludes me now, but it also starred Waise Lee, and had characters named “Wah Di“. Can anyone remember that? But anyway, back to the point, Michelle has been one of my favourite veterans since. She was magnificent as Sung Kam Chi in Brink of Law, and I was afraid that she would play the same role again (because let’s face it, every drama like this one here needs a villain). But she didn’t, and her Ling Lei is a joy to watch. Ling Lei is strong, straightforward, capable and caring on the outside, but already from the beginning, you can tell that that’s not all there is to her. She is a character with many layers and possibly an unexpected history, and Michelle brings that to life. A lesser actress definitely couldn’t.

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Susanna Kwan as Wong Sau Kam/Sai Kai

Wow. I’ve never watched Glittering Days, so this is the first time I’m seeing her in action. A very effective villain. I judge how good villainous acting is by how much you feel hatred for that character that is being played, and Susanna has got it in the bag, because I can’t stand Wong Sau Kam, for her greed and her jealousy. Sai Kai has plenty of pointed lines, in which the words are masked knives, and Susanna does them all with conviction. She plays a woman scorned very well. Brilliant. I enjoyed the fighting scenes between her and Michelle when Sai Kai and Ah Lei were at odds. The chemistry was so apparent.

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Moses Chan Ho as Tong Chi On/Dak Dak Dei/Sai Bao

I must say, I never envisioned Moses in a role like this when I heard about it. But now, when I watch the series, and I see how perfectly he immerses himself in Sai Bao’s character, I simply cannot think of anyone else. I’ve always said Moses was a brilliant comedic actor, and this series further cements that. He’s made me laugh like a lunatic so many times just in the first nine episodes (my housemate thought I was going a little insane, lol) and I’m sure there’s more to come. All his scenes are a joy to watch; with every member of the Tong family, Sheung Joi Sum, even the Filipino woman who was teaching him to sing!

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Bosco Wong Chung Chak as Tong Chi Yat/Gilbert/Gil Gil

Can I just first say that I love this look for Bosco? He looks every bit like what you would imagine the MBA-holding son of a rich family would look like. So far, I haven’t seen any of the wooden acting that everyone’s been complaining about, but that could be because the first nine episodes have been pretty comedic thus far. Even when the women are at odds with one another, the three Tong boys have been trying to add humour to the situation to solve things. The few dramatic scenes he’s had have been with Tavia, and I found those great. They’ve been acting together long enough, so there’s none of that inconsistent chemistry with the both of them.

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Chris Lai Lok Yi as Tong Chi Foon

I know I’ve said this a lot of times, but here it is another time- I cannot picture a better actor for this job. Heart of Greed succeeds because the producer understood the acting capacity of each actor and casted them appropriately. Chris is not by any means the best young actor on the block, but what he can do is perfect for the character of Chi Foon. Chi Foon is your average university student- he just wants to have fun… and pass all his units at school; not having his mother at odds with the rest of the family. Chris Lai does the unaffected young adult well.

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Fala Chen as Tong Chi Yan

Again, I have to commend the casting. I can only think of one other actress who would have suited this role- Natalie Tong, which I really like. But Natalie has played the youngest sister so many times, that she could do it in her sleep. Casting Fala was a wise choice, because the audience has seen Natalie so many times. Fala is a breath of fresh air, and again, does the whole unaffected teenager thing very well. I have to admit though, she such a rumour magnet, but if you ignore all that and just watch her, she’s very pleasant to watch as Ah Yan. Yet another thumbs up for the casting. This is a great break for both her and Chris Lai.

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Linda Chung as Sheung Joi Sum

First of, a completely random thought; I really like her character’s name in this series, and the way they keep on saying it in whole, hee. As for Linda, I’ve never been a fan. I saw bits of Always Ready and The Bitter Bitten, and she didn’t impress me. However, she has most definitely improved since then. Her acting in Heart of Greed is better and her role is of more substance. This year would be a great year for her to win Most Improved Actress instead of last year, IMO. I still don’t see any semblance of romantic chemistry between her and Moses, but, I think she’s a great choice for this role.

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Tavia Yeung as Cheuk Man Lei/Jackie

I haven’t seen much of Tavia, but what I’ve seen, I’ve liked. You can already tell that there’s a bit of a stubborn streak in her character, judging by her actions. That scene the screencap is from, between her and Bosco was so bittersweet and angsty, but very well done by the both of them. Tavia’s also come a long way in her crying since Golden Faith where she ran down the street wailing. She’s managed to master the art of crying beautifully, which not a lot of actresses can do. Again, great casting.

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Yoyo Mung as Shui Mak Mak

That’s a truly awful name; someone please tell me it’s just her nickname and not her birth name? Because I would be really annoyed at my parents if it were me, hah. This is the first I’ve seen Yoyo in such an independent, extroverted, sexy character. I’ve always seen her in more subdued roles, so this is a nice change. I liked her in Burning Flame II but since then she’s neither been a like or dislike for me, but it’s a nice change to see her playing a character like this. TVB needs to mix it up more often like this.

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Raymond Lam as Alfred

Yes, that’s the only glimpse of him that’s in the first nine episodes, save for the opening credits. Incredibly sad, isn’t it? I’ve been told that his scenes with Linda are adorable, and I really want to watch those. That aside, Raymond always, always delivers a solid performance and this should be no exception. It’ll be interesting to watch him act as a two-timing ass.

Louis Yuen as Ling Bo/Kau Fu Bo

Couldn’t find a screencap of him, unfortunately. As always, Louis Yuen is a great reliable supporting character. He is so annoying and irritating as Ah Bo, that you know it’s great acting, like I said about Susanna above. Again, great selection of actor (are you getting bored with me saying this yet?); I read from Lavendar_Bluez that it was initially supposed to be the equally formidable Wayne Lai in this role, but I think Louis Yuen would have been better, because the audience has gotten so used to him in his long-running part in Virtues of Harmony and this would be an intriguing change.

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Again, I love the family camaraderie these actors share as a family. It’s obvious that they all get along in real life, and I love how that transpires onto film. It’s a joy to watch, and I might be saying this too early with Drive of Life and Jewel’s Splendour not even out yet, but I feel that at least one or two from this cast deserve an award at this year’s TVB Awards. But then again, who knows? TVB loves to spring us surprises during its awards ceremony, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

Also, the script is great. That’s another huge aspect as to why I’m enjoying it so much. It is smart, has heart and is witty. There’s a difference between lame humour and wit, and thankfully, it is the latter that is apparent here.

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What do you think? Is all the buzz from watching the first few episodes getting to me? Do you agree with the casting choices in Heart of Greed? Come on, don’t keep quiet like the picture above (which I love, btw).

Oh, but no spoilers, please! Don’t ruin the ending for me!

P/S: All the wonderful screencaps courtesy of the lovely K for TVB. Visit her site for more insightful recaps of Heart of Greed!