Friday, December 31, 2010

My Thoughts on “Born Rich 富貴門"

This was my most anticipated series of 2009, as I absolutely love the cast (both lead and supporting) and hadn't seen most of the leads (Ray, Jamie, Kenix, Gallen, Anita) as well as supporting artists (Benz, Ming Sir, etc.) in series in a long time, so was looking forward to their 'comeback' performances.....despite the lack of promotion from TVB's side (because as well all know, all of the promotion went to BTROC instead), I still was hopeful that it would be good. Even after the series aired in HK last year and there were tons of negative feedback on it, I was still a little optimistic and wanted to at least watch it for myself to see if it truly sucked as much as people said it did.

After finally watching this series, all I can say is: boy, was I hugely disappointed!!!

The script for the series absolutely sucked!!! Most of the storyline made no sense and was very hard to follow. I had actually missed quite a few episodes here and there, but didn't bother re-watching because I felt as though nothing of significance occurred in those episodes to warrant my going back and 'catching up'. Also, alot of the parts dragged out way too much (like the whole love triangle thing between Ray, Jamie, and Kenix), and ended up being boring.

For me, I felt like TVB just took a bunch of talented artists and threw them all together in a series for the heck of it, with no decent storyline or plot to carry the series -- sort of like one of those Taiwanese Idol dramas but except all the 'idols' are middle-aged or older and can truly act. And I realize now what made the storyline so hard to follow was that there were too many sub-storylines going on at the same time, some of which weren't really related to each other (kind of like a 'hodge-podge' of storylines mixed together). I mean, was it really necessary to have all those complicated relationships in there? If you really take apart each character, all of them had more than 1 relationship, whether it was a family relationship or a romantic one, however most of the relationships were under-developed (probably because there wasn't enough time or room in the script to develop them with so much stuff in there).

For example:

Gallen -- family relationship with Kenneth (his real brother), Ray (his 'fake' brother), Anita (his 'fake' sister), Nancy (his 'fake' step-mother); and romantic relationship with Anita (who is not truly his sister, but only he knows that and of course she doesn't, which tortures her throughout the series) as well as Sharon (who is pretty much a 'stand-in' for Anita, since he doesn't love her at all).

Ray -- family relationship with Gallen (his 'fake' brother), Anita (real sister), Nancy (mother), his kids; and romantic relationship with Jamie (his wife) and Kenix (extra-marital affair that turns into actual relationship after he and Jamie end up divorcing).

Anita -- family relationship with Ray, Nancy, Jamie, Gallen and romantic relationship with Gallen (whom she truly loves but can't be with) and Joe (whom I still can't tell whether she truly loves or not).

And THAT'S just scratching the surface! All the other characters have very similar complicated relationships....

Bottom line is that the writers and producer tried TOO HARD to cram as much material as they could into the series and it ended up backfiring on them, since it made the series way too confusing and difficult to follow (I got confused just trying to list out the above 3 relationships for this post!!!)

Watching this series made me get really pissed off at TVB for wasting such a great cast -- I mean, both the main leads as well as the supporting cast (with the exception of a few people) are awesome actors / actresses in their own right and have many great performances / series to their credit. Plus, like I said earlier, I really loved the cast because I grew up watching most of their series and know how much potential these artists have -- so it made it extremely painful for me to watch them put 100% effort in such a poorly written drama (it was so poorly written / put together that even the awesome acting of the artists couldn't save it!!)

I don't think I've ever watched a series with such a true waste of talent! I mean, many of the characters had like NO PURPOSE and were JUST THERE for the sake of being there! For example, Paul Chun (his character would show up every once in a while, but I had no clue what he was there for), Benz Hui and Angelina Lo (I know that they are Sharon's parents in the series, but other than that, they don't have much other significance), Lee Sing Cheung (all I know is that he works for Ray's family and shows up every once in awhile in a few episodes here and there).....I could name a bunch more, but you get the picture....

As if that weren't enough, most of the lead characters were very poorly written as well -- there wasn't much depth to the characters for one, and two, there was nothing about the characters that made them memorable to the audiences....pretty much anyone could have played those characters and it would have probably still come out the same way because the script was so poor (so again, why did they waste those talents???).

Here's my take on a few of the main characters:

Ray's character (Cheuk Yat Yuen / Marcus) -- if ever there were a poorly written character, this one is definitely it! I mean, the poor guy is all over the place -- first he is insistent on finding his long lost brother and getting Nancy to accept him, then when she does, he sort of resents it because Gallen starts to threaten his position in the company (and this is even before he finds out that Gallen is a fake). And he supposedly has the 'perfect' family with a loving wife and smart kids, but then he has an affair with Kenix (whom he supposedly dated prior to being married) and ends up destroying his perfect family and losing his powerful position in the company just so he could be with her. And what about his constant power struggle with Joe? I didn't understand that piece at all because I thought he considered Joe his 'right hand man' -- but then why does he resent the fact that his sister is dating him and tries to ruin their engagement party? It's almost like Ray's character is pulled in a hundred different directions and ends up going nowhere....

Gallen's character (Cheuk Yat Ming / Sa Fu Loi) -- his character in this series really confused seemed to me as though his character is supposed to be both tragic and comedic in a way, but mixed together very poorly. There were several scenes were I saw elements of his comedic "Old Time Buddy" character, but then the rest of the time, he is mostly scheming for money and power. And the whole triangular relationship thing with Sharon and Anita as well as his hatred / jealousy of Joe was sort of ridiculous. But I do have to hand it to Gallen because despite his badly written character, he pulled off the acting piece without a problem -- with his facial expressions and gestures, etc., and the way he is able to show his character's 'evilness masked in goodness' -- very natural and convincing.

Kenix’s character (Tung Ling Chi / Angie) – Kenix is one of my favorite actresses, but her character in this series totally sucked -- her acting was a bit forced at certain points too (though I don't know if it was because the character was so poorly written or she was dealing with issues in her personal life that may have affected her acting). I really felt that the part where her character tries to ‘seduce’ Ray by pretending to be heartbroken over breaking up with her boyfriend, then talking her way into moving in with the Cheuk family was extremely cheesy (not to mention that it didn’t make any sense whatsoever). And I hated her physical appearance -- I've always thought of Kenix as pretty, but she looked really scary in this series...way too skinny to the point of being skeletal and the makeup didn't help any either.

Anita’s character (Cheuk Yat Sum / Rene) – to be honest, Anita’s character in this series was very bland – nothing special, nothing interesting, nothing memorable. I was actually a bit disappointed with Anita’s performance in this series because to be honest, I really expected more from her – after all, she IS the film industry’s Best Actress winner (multiple times)….though I do attribute a lot of it to the poorly written character, I still think that she could have put a little more effort. I do like Anita as a person (and as a movie actress), however I just feel that she made the wrong move by going back to television – she was way better off in the film industry, where she excelled.

Jamie’s character (Hor Tseuk Nin / Connie) – amazingly, my feelings are neutral towards Jamie’s character, but I think that’s because I really did not pay a whole lot of attention to her character, since it was another one of those typical ‘strong woman’ roles. Or it could be that I got so confused with all the rest of the intermixing storylines that I did not have the energy anymore to pick apart her character or performance. All I really remember is that – like Anita’s character – Jamie’s character was not that memorable either.

Though there are probably a lot more things to say about this series, I don’t feel it is necessary to go more into it, since the rest of my feedback is pretty much the same as what I expressed above.

Overall, this was a very disappointing series that I probably would not watch again, no matter how much I like the cast – it was enough torture sitting through this series the first time…I definitely don’t need to go through it a second time!


  1. Uh...but TW idol dramas could be entertaining too IF you know how to pick. (The general 'you', you you.) Sometimes if you scrap the nonsense/ randomness at times off the surface, you could see the moral of the story.

    Moving on...since we're not focusing on that, LOL! It sure sounds complicated but I don't feel it's complicated? Or maybe because you didn't list all the other characters too? I do get it when they try to squeeze in too much complication and it backfires though. Seen in several series in the past already. In fact, too many. It's TVB for you, regardless if it's '70s, '80s, '90s, or now. Depends if you stumbled across enough of those to get discouraged.

    And I don't even know why the veterans went back (except for Gallen since he owes them episode?) since it was such a torture for them. It's such a waste of time AND them not doing their best defeats their purpose of coming as well.

    Don't kill me since I didn't watch (like I said above) and was just basing the comments on your analysis. Still, thanks for it so I would not to watch it (like you mentioned earlier).

  2. Hm, coming from someone who has never seen a Ray Lui/Jamie Chik series until Born Rich, I really liked the series and actually thought it was my one of my favorites in 2009. I was mad when BTROC robbed BR's limelight during the anniversary month because I thought BR was sooooooo underrated.

    I didn't think too much into the confusion/complexity of the series because I thought the plot was followable (don't even know if this is a word, lol). There were even times when I wanted to "chase" it when the episode ended because of the suspense.

    I was very excited for the series before it aired because of the veteran cast (love Gallen) and also because I've never seen a Ray/Jamie series before. To be honest, I was quite disappointed with Jamie's acting (kinda like the way I felt when I watched "Catch Me Now" with Idy Chan, but Idy's case was much worse) and Ray wasn't as good as expected either - not sure if it was the script (because his character was really stupid at times) or his acting. But he was good eye candy so it made up for all that, hehe :).

    Have to agree that the Ray/Jamie/Kenix triangle was super draggy, stupid and definitely pissed me off. Nancy Sit also annoyed me to death with her exaggerated acting, but then again, I've never really liked her.

    However, I loved Joe and Anita's relationship... I wanted them to be together so badly. I actually think Joe did a great job with his role and think it's my favorite role of his throughout the years that I've seen him.

    I was happy to see Gallen again after the dog/cat series with Myolie (which was super lame). Must agree that the script kinda messed up his role because how can someone possibly do all those things without being busted and was dragged on into almost 40 episodes? I don't know if it's a good or bad thing that I didn't HATE his villain character. Usually, you would hate the villain so bad that you want them to die, but I didn't feel that way with Gallen. What he did with Anita at the end was pretty psycho and I liked it a lot.
    His character's ending was really horribly written though.

    Overall, it was a series I really enjoyed. Maybe because none of these actors/actresses in the series are the ones that TVB was promoting at the time (Charmaine/Moses/Kev/Tavia etc) so they just dumped them into a barrel and gave them a mess to deal with and then left them there.

  3. @tvbaddict: Thanks for your comments! I actually really wanted to count BR as one of my favorites too, but I just couldn't bring myself to do so (despite my love for the cast).

    I totally agree with you regarding Nancy Sit's character (I didn't bother mentioning her character in the post though cuz she was just too super annoying)...the parts where she actually throws tantrums like a child were super lame and stupid.

    I love Gallen too and despite the fact that I didn't like any of the characters in the series, like you, I would much prefer his character here than the stupid one in When a Dog Loves a Cat…

    As for Ray/Jamie -- they definitely had better chemistry back when they did Flying Fox of Snowy Mountain in 1985 (and they were only a couple in like the first 2-3 episodes, since Jamie's character dies, but yet, you could still sense their chemistry).

    As for TVB and their stupid promotion tactics -- well, I think I've beat the issue to death already....

  4. @DTLCT: Definitely! I actually find the 'torture' thing ironic because I was sort of 'following' the making of the series and the cast kept talking about how much they loved working together and what a great time they had together -- it seemed as though they had grown really close (to the point that Gallen actually invited the BR cast to his wedding) even though it was 'torture' for us audiences, at least they enjoyed it (it seems)...

  5. @llwy12 - Really? It shows their bond with all the talks BUT it was probably the plot that made it worse? I guess I made a good choice in skipping.

    I love Ray and Jamie in Flying Fox one too! It was the only part worth watching though I like Chow Siu Lan and Margie since the other parts dragged on and on with the love thing.

    Regarding Gallen's character for WADLAC, his character wasn't stupid. It was the plot that made it lame how he ended up with Myolie's character since I actually quite love his character in there. If they had made him ended up with Bernice or Margie, I would've been fine with it BUT since they made it impossible for him to end up with anyone but Myolie, it was ridiculous. Sorry for off-topic. Out now.

  6. @DTLCT: Totally agree regarding Flying Fox. The other parts I liked were Margie's parts, but that was about it -- didn't feel that Ray had too much chemistry with Margie either.

    Regarding WADLAC -- sorry, should have elaborated more (typed too fast)...what I meant to say is that I hated that series primarily because I can't stand Myolie and Gallen ended up with the plot was sort of blah...also, I guess I was still sort of grossed out by the relationship too, since they were brother and sister in Golden Faith and that series was very memorable...

  7. @llwy12 - I was sort of having that creepy feeling because of GF too BUT I didn't feel that GF was that awesome. NOT because Gallen and the other didn't do good with their performance, BUT it was because Gallen and Jessica's story in there wasn't convincing to me. (Aka she liked him too fast after the cave incident, etc.)

  8. Hi llwy12 & DTLCT: Its really interesting reading other peoples comments and views. This particular series I actually watched whilst on holiday in Hong Kong and then finished the rest of it when I got back home. I only watched it because there wasn't much on apart from "Realm of Conscience" which I didn't really like. I did not enjoy Born Rich but only watched it because I liked the cast. I just thought that the script was badly written and it didn't make me want to carry on watching it. I did but only out of curiosity. What a waste of good stars but it just goes to show that putting good actors together does not automatically make a good drama.

    From Peaches

  9. @Peaches: I so agree with you on your last point -- that putting good actors together does not automatically make a good drama! I wish that TVB understand that concept because they do it ALL THE TIME and it really pisses me off.

    They also do it alot with the LONG dramas (lie the 60 / 80 / 100 episode stuff) -- where they basically put together a stellar ensemble cast for series, make it ridiculously long, then expect it to do well in the ratings, but get disappointed when it doesn't -- um, don't they understand that 1) even the best of actors and actresses can't save a crappy script and 2) if a series is TOO LONG, that means that the writers had to stretch the storyline somewhere and the series ends up being too draggy / boring and loses the interest of the audience (I guess they don't understand the concept of "short and sweet").

    Anyway, I hope TVB learns this lesson soon -- either that or STOP PUTTING good veteran artists in crappy series!!