Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Thoughts on “Trimming Success 飛短留長父子兵”

I happened to re-watch this series when it came on TV a little while ago so figured I would write up a blog post / review on it.

This is actually one of the few Kevin Cheng series that I like (well, come to think of it now, it might be the ONLY one of his that I like) – not because of him of course (since I still feel his performance in this series was very bland) but rather, because of the supporting cast and the script. The female lead in the series is Nnadia Chan and supporting cast includes Wayne Lai, Halina Tam, Lau Dan, Ching Hor Wai, Sharon Chan, etc.

What I liked most about this series: Wayne's performance -- he definitely stole the show!!! I loved Wayne's witty character Johnny, an extremely nice, sensible guy who returns to his hometown of Stanley after years of taking care of the family business elsewhere. Once again, Wayne puts his awesome acting skills to great use, as the character of Johnny is very 'mysterious' at first, with the residents of Stanley thinking that he may have a possible hidden motive for returning due to the actions of his now deceased father (who stole from the residents to pay off gambling debts) many years ago but then later revealing that he is actually an extremely generous and likable guy with no hidden motive -- except to fulfill his dad's dying wish of being buried with his mother. His character also has a great sense of humor but Wayne portrays the humor in a way that isn't the traditional 'comical funny' type -- it's almost like he doesn't try to be funny on purpose, yet you can't help but laugh at his actions. I guess the closest way I can describe it is that his character possesses a 'witty charm' that is at times sarcastic but balances it with just the right amount of seriousness -- plus his personality is always very optimistic and upbeat without going overboard.

Surprisingly, I found myself very much attached to the pairing of Wayne and Halina in this series. I say 'surprisingly' because 1) general audience reaction would be to become attached to the main leads rather than the supporting ones, so I definitely parted from 'tradition' in this case, and 2) I'm not a particular fan of Halina's and have not watched enough of her series to like or dislike her, so normally, I would not have any 'reaction' so to speak with her performances. Wayne and Halina actually complemented each other quite well in the series, even though their personalities were so opposite (he is honest, generous, humble, nice, constantly helping others, etc. whereas she is selfish, brash, and constantly 'pretending' to charm people in order to cheat them out of their money). From the beginning, it looked like they would never get together because they are constantly bickering and Halina even tries to deceive Wayne and cheat him out of his money -- yet she does it in a way that makes it 'funny' rather than 'hateful' (and Wayne 'pretending' to fall for it is absolutely hilarious). I loved the interaction between these two and found almost every scene they were in very enjoyable (special mention goes out to the restaurant scene early on in the series where Halina is trying to 'seduce' Nnadia's uncle so she can cheat him of his money and Wayne purposefully ruins it because Halina's son asked for his help to keep an eye on her -- the way that Wayne 'pretends' to be Halina's boyfriend and his facial expressions during that scene really cracked me up!)

I actually could go on some more about Wayne and Halina, but I don't want this post to go on forever, so I'll move on to the next highlight.....

Though I liked Nnadia's character and with the fine actress that she is, I definitely enjoyed her performance overall, however I wasn't too keen on her pairing with Kevin. For some reason, I just didn't feel any chemistry with their pairing -- in fact, I would have to say that I found some scenes of theirs very boring. I'm thinking that perhaps it's because of Kevin's bland acting that affected things for me because I've always felt that Kevin's acting is very 'wooden' and unnatural (that's why I don't like to watch his series because I get bored to death)....I actually did try to put my bias aside and give him a chance when I first watched the series way back when (as well as when I re-watched it just now), but he still failed to impress me. It could be perhaps that the rest of the supporting cast in this series is so strong that it makes Kevin look particularly weak compared to them -- but whatever the reason, I would much rather have preferred that they cast someone else in that role (on a side note: I can't help but think that perhaps TVB put a strong supporting cast in there on purpose to try to 'cover up' his weak acting and then use it as an excuse to promote him, since the series itself was enjoyable overall).

To cite an example that supports the above (the weakness of Kevin's acting and strength of the rest of the cast) -- and so that people reading this can't say that I'm biased against Kevin without merit -- the scene at the hospital where each of the main characters react to the death of Kevin's mom in the series (Ching Hor Wai) really provides a good comparison/contrast. Kevin's reaction was very bland -- it's not that he didn't look sad or cry or anything, but it just came across very fake to me-- like he was trying to force a reaction to a situation that has nothing to do with him. (After watching that scene for the first time, I remember thinking to myself -- wait, that's it? that's how you react when someone so close to you who raised you and protected you and loved you all your life dies?) In comparisons -- being the veteran 'green leaf' actor, of course Lau Dan's reaction over the death of his wife in the series was perfectly expressed -- and very touching. Nnadia's reaction was very natural and you could really feel how saddened she was even though she is not related to Ching at all in the series. And Wayne's reaction – I mean, you would think that Ching was his mother rather than Kevin's! To sum it up -- Kevin really looked like he was trying too hard to act that scene (that's why it came across as fake) whereas the other 3 had such natural reactions that they were able to make the scene moving and emotional for the audience.

Again, I could come up with more examples as well, but I'll leave it at that, since it already gets my point across...

Overall, I liked the series' heartwarming storyline and the lessons that it teaches. Of course, there is the typical TVB lack of originality and so the formula is not much different from their other run-of-the-mill light-hearted yet serious family-oriented drama series -- but somehow, I was still drawn to the series and enjoyed it, even with the 'cheesiness' of some of the scenes and the predictability of the plot. I also disliked the Nnadia/Kevin/Sharon love triangle thing and thought that it was sort of pointless, especially in the second half of the series (maybe it was done as 'space-filler'?)....I would much rather they had spent more time developing Wayne's storyline instead.


  1. Oh yeah, I watched this like once already and then jump around to watch Wayne and Nnadia scenes later. Don't ask, 'cause they're supposed to be attached to someone else in this one. BUT watching them is too funny, especially the scene I mentioned to you on MSN with her father chasing him down because he had misunderstood them. And also the parts where she injured her ear and Kevin didn't know, but Wayne figured it out. Then there was also the scenes with him and Law Lok Lam and the old man being so paranoid, etc. It made everything more hilarious.

    Oh yeah, I love the Wayne and Halina pairing too BUT won't elaborate as much since I remember us talking about it in the past already and it would take me forever as well.

    Lastly, I found the triangle with Nnadia-Kevin-Sharon pointless too. It was like what the world? Since Sharon seemed like she was going nuts BUT then nothing happened at the wedding scene? Strange to death. Someone must have been hit in the head with that part.

    One of my favorite scenes of Kevin and Nnadia must be the part where he was looking for her, calling out to her but she didn't hear him ('cause of her ear injury) and she didn't even hear the other things around her either. Kevin followed her and ended up hugging her to shield her from the sound that was whirring in her ear? That was probably the only part I felt their chemistry the most. Aside from that, the other reason why I even like their pairing is because they're around the same age versus him having to pairing with younger ones? *shrugs* But shouldn't rant about Kevin in your post.

    Wayne WAS awesome!

  2. Haha...I actually liked the Wayne / Nnadia scenes as well -- though not as hilarious as the Wayne / Halina scenes, but still...the scene you mentioned was especially funny. As I mentioned during our discussion on messenger, I kept cracking up when Law Lok Lam kept alluding to the TVB series 狂潮 and insisted that Wayne was Siu Wah San (Chow Yun Fat's character in that series) was a convenient 'plug' for the 1976 classic series, but yet, it was done in a way that wasn't cheesy (and was hilarious)...

    Omg, now that you mention the wedding scene - I was totally like HUH???? That was sooo lame! I mean, I can understand the existence of Sharon's character in the beginning of the series but after she and Kevin broke up, what's the point of having her continue to reappear? Lame!

    Oooh, thanks for reminding me about that Kevin / Nnadia scene -- I definitely agree about that scene being the best one out of the Kevin/Nnadia ones....though I'm still of the opinion that the scene would have been more emotional if someone else were in that role....

  3. Regarding Sharon, I agree that the beginning was okay, but the intensity later on and then leading to the wedding scene was LAME times 12 (or more). I know the character has to have some background at first so it's okay that he and Sharon date and then break up, BUT stir more things up? Definitely whatever.

    The funniest thing out of the whole LLL chasing Wayne scene was they got their picture on the newspaper, LOL. 'Cause LLL passed out due to short of breath, etc. Hahahaha. LLL was so embarrassed that he refuse to be seen near Wayne again. Then of course Nnadia and the others have to jump in to stop them once again. Told you I could go on forever, especially those hilarious scenes of Wayne.

  4. Forgot to say that regarding the Kevin/ Nnadia scene, I don't know. I like it because it was subtle. IF it was overly emotional, it would be too fake (for me). Like it was more about the nature of the hug than the whatever else that was involved. I guess I have this weird interpretation with their relationship - whether friendship/ lovers. NOT too flashy like how it was with him and Sharon at the beginning. If it's flashy, it's like too good to be true, etc. *shrugs*

  5. I'm actually still watching the series on TV, since it hasn't finished airing yet (I wrote my review based on my memory from watching it before and also the 15 or so episodes that I've re-watched so far)...

    That scene with Kevin and Nnadia just came on earlier -- I agree that it is quite subtle (in fact, if you don't pay attention, may miss it, since it occurs at the end of one of the episodes) definitely makes it more tolerable.

    As for the Wayne and Nnadia scenes -- ok, I must say that certain ones are super-funny...especially the ones where Wayne keeps teasing Nnadia about her "crush" on Kevin...I was cracking up so hard!!!

    I think the other reason why I enjoyed this series is because the script /storyline was well done in that the comical scenes balanced well with the dramatic scenes -- the part where Ching Hor Wai's character dies is probably the most emotional one of the entire series -- this is where I must give credit to the scriptwriter because all of the 'light-hearted comical' scenes leading up to that moment made it seem like there's no possible way such a huge tragedy would it made the moment more emotional and shocking....