Friday, May 6, 2011

Review of “The Enforcer’s Experience" (優皮幹探)

I was really debating whether I should write a review on this particular series or not because even though I like the main cast of the series a lot, I wasn’t too fond of the storyline. To be honest, I first watched this series years ago and (as with most of the series from the 80s/early 90s) I may have re-watched it at some point in time after that, but it’s been so long already, I really can’t remember. This series aired recently on TV (in the U.S., on one of the channels that airs older series) and since there wasn’t much else interesting to watch on the other channels (the “new” TVB series that are currently airing in HK were on the other channel and those were absolutely boring me to death, so I gave up on them already), I decided to go with this one (hey, a so-so TVB series from the 80s/90s is still way more interesting to watch than the boring series they make nowadays!).

“The Enforcer’s Experience” is a short, 20 episode modern cop series from 1990 starring Eddie Cheung, David Siu, Frankie Lam, Sheren Tang, Angela Yeung, and a huge supporting cast consisting of mainly 3rd and 4th line artists.

Eddie and David are high-ranking police inspectors at the same police station, but overseeing different criminal investigation teams. Both men technically have the same titles and are on the same level career-wise – however, personality-wise, the two of them are extreme opposites:

Eddie is the mature, serious, reserved cop who comes across as ‘high and mighty’ because of his education and background. He doesn’t like to say much except when giving orders and doesn’t get along too well with his staff, probably because he doesn’t make the effort to get to know them on a personal level and instead always acts so ‘authoritative’ towards them. Eddie’s character is interesting because even though he acts very confidently at work, he is actually a very insecure person because he grew up with an overbearing father (played by the late Bau Fong) who had extremely high standards and demanded a lot of him. So in a sense, he is under so much pressure at home and in his personal life that he sort of ‘takes it out’ on his staff at work by being an overbearing boss. He’s definitely a good person in the series, but because of the pressures and the unhappiness at home, he sometimes does things that make him come across as a big jerk.

David, on the other hand, is the embodiment of the ‘impulsive cop’ who sometimes lets his feelings and emotions get in the way of objective judgement. Don’t get me wrong – he definitely takes his work seriously, but he has a suave, nonchalant personality in that he is more concerned about helping others rather than advancing in his own career. He gets along very well with his staff and they are like one big family pretty much. He’s actually good friends with Frankie and they often hang out together as drinking buddies and sports buddies. David knows Eddie as well, since they work at the same station, but they are definitely not close friends. Sheren plays his wife, a psychologist for the police squad, whose personality is more mature than his – her character is the epitome of reason and logic and deals with matters in a calm and collected manner for the most part (well, with that type of profession, she kind of has to be that way), which of course is opposite from David’s emotional impulsiveness. The two of them are a loving couple at first, but as the series progresses, Sheren gets more and more frustated with David’s ‘carefreeness’ and lack of ambition – she feels that she continues to mature (in terms of thought and action) and grow, but yet David hasn’t changed one bit from when they married. This causes tension in their relationship, to the point that Sheren eventually moves out (oh, and the fact that one of David’s staff – played by Eddie Ng Kwok King – has a crush on Sheren doesn’t help matters at all – in fact, it causes issues for him at work).

Frankie is also a cop, but his position is lower than both Eddie’s and David’s (though higher than the others on his team). Frankie’s personality is a little bit like David’s, except more reserved and less impulsive. He gets along well with everyone on his team except for Eddie, who is his boss – but he does try to remain cordial around him – that is, until they become ‘love rivals’ fighting over the same woman (Angela Yeung). Angela is Eddie’s distant cousin and even though they are relatives of sorts, Eddie’s father doesn’t like her or her family because he feels they are lower middle class and not ‘good enough’ to match with them. This is why even though Eddie likes Angela, he is afraid to pursue her because he knows his father would not approve. Angela meets Frankie at a car racing event (she has a little bit of a tomboyish personality) and they end up becoming a couple – much to Eddie’s surprise and dislike of course, but he knows he can’t say anything because he’s the one who chose not to pursue her. Predictably, the relationship between Frankie, Angela, and Eddie turns into a love triangle and soon, the conflicts in their personal lives spill over to their ‘work lives’ as well.

Though I absolutely love the main cast of this series, I have to admit that in terms of plot and theme, the series does not quite deliver. I actually hesitate to call this series a “cop series” because to be honest, the police / crime investigation aspect is more of a subtheme than a main one – sure, most of the scenes do take place at the police station and there are cases that they have to solve as well as the typical ‘villain’ characters (played by Felix Lok and Derek Kok) that they are tasked to defeat – but all of that seems to take a back seat to the various conflicts related to the relationship issues that each of the main characters encounter. So I guess you could say that the main theme of this series is actually about relationships – not saying it’s a bad thing necessarily, but it would have been nice if the writers / producer could have found a better balance. Plus I personally think that if they had made the police / criminal investigation part the main theme, it would have made the series more fast-paced and interesting (I definitely found some parts of the series draggy and unnecessary at times).

Of course, there is more that happens in the series than what I described above, but overall, those are the highlights. I don’t mean to give away the ending, but to be honest, I’m sure most of you have guessed by now how the series ends anyways (well, those of you who are experienced TVB series watchers probably have). Yes, you are correct – the ending is a “happily ever after” one in that the three main guys (Eddie, David, Frankie) become good friends and colleagues and each of them are in a steady relationship with the women they love -- David and Sheren get back together, and Frankie and Angela overcome their differences to remain together. So who does Eddie get paired up with in the end? Ready for this?......he gets paired with MAGGIE SIU at the end – yup, Maggie makes a guest appearance at the very end of the series as Eddie’s girlfriend (now, before Maggie fans get too excited, she only does a quick cameo in this series – she’s only in 1 scene and only has a few lines of dialogue). But hey, I have to admit that Maggie and Eddie do make a cute couple – even if it’s only for a few minutes…LOL!

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A few additional thoughts…..

** As I said earlier, this series may not be one of the best and the script definitely needs some “cleaning up”, but I still feel that this is a series worth watching – especially if you like the cast as much as I did!

** David Siu – I think I may have said this before an another post…anyway, David is definitely one of my favorite actors from the late 80s / early 90s. He actually started at TVB in 1987 after he won the銀河十星接力賽contest – throughout that time, he participated in many series, both as supporting actor as well as lead (also as villain characters) and left quite an impression with his memorable roles. His most acclaimed role was of course as Adam Cheng’s oldest son in the classic series “The Greed of Man”. I personally feel that throughout the time that David was in TVB, he was very underrated – he’s one of the few rare actors who is able to play all types of roles well and make them convincing to the audiences – I’ve watched most of the series he’s participated in and enjoyed his performance in almost all of them. It’s really too bad that he left TVB in 1995 due to dissatisfaction with the way the company promoted its artists.

** Angela Yeung – Now here’s an actress who definitely had potential, yet she had a very short career in the entertainment industry. She was one of the few actresses of that era who possessed beauty, talent, smarts, and most importantly, good acting chops – to me, she always came across as very natural in terms of her acting and I always felt comfortable watching her performance. Take “The Enforcer’s Experience” for example – I didn’t particularly like her character in the series and to be honest, the character didn’t really “stand out”, but I still enjoyed her performance regardless because of the way she played the character.

Angela’s career at TVB actually began in 1988, which was the year she made it to the finals in the Miss HK Beauty Pageant (she didn’t win though). She entered TVB that year and in 1989, she participated in her first series – the sitcom “Everybody Loves Somebody”. Her most memorable and “representative” role however was in 1991’s “The Breaking Point”, in which she played Leon Lai’s younger sister Ching Hung (most of you who watched the series will probably remember her). She only participated in 6 series while at TVB and in 1993, she “retired” from the entertainment industry to pursue a career as a beauty consultant in the U.S. – which proved to be an extremely smart move because this became a wildly successful career for her…in fact, a few years ago, she was voted one of the top 1000 beauty experts in all of the U.S., receiving much praise and widely recognized for her work in that field.

** Eddie Cheung – another one of my favorites (yes, I admit that most of the artists from the 80s were on my “favorites” list – LOL). Eddie actually was quite a sought after actor in the 80s / early 90s and did his fair share of lead roles – unfortunately though, in the mid to late 90s, he was relegated to becoming a supporting actor, which I feel is really a waste of his talents! Needless to say, Eddie is no longer with TVB and has pretty much shifted his career to movies in recent years rather than TV series. Oh, and he still does do stage performances occasionally – in fact, every couple months, he travels to mainland China with his soccer buddy (and good friend) Felix Wong for their famous “Fai Wong” concerts….Haha – imagine Eddie and Felix singing the themesongs from some of the past series they starred in – and not just any themesongs, but THE SAME themesongs over and over again! LOL – gotta love it though! (Note: If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, please read the Mingpao interview with Felix Wong that I posted awhile back).

** Sheren Tang – what can I say? Sheren has always been a steady, talented actress back from the 80s up to now. Just like Wayne Lai, she is LONG OVERDUE for recognition for her acting (though she fared much better than Wayne in that she has pretty much been female lead this entire time whereas Wayne only started getting lead roles 2 years ago). She definitely deserved to be one of the top fa dans of the 80s and I’m glad that she is still going strong even now – to be honest, she is one of the few actresses that I watch nowadays (can’t stand most of the other ones!).

2 comments:

  1. Never saw this one before but with a cast like that, I am VERY interested. I'm glad you decided to post a review. My imaginary queue is getting longer and longer.

    Eddie, Sheren, and Frankie - No doubt about their talents. And Maggie... really? Only one scene? haha.

    People like David and Angela are the ones who disappear and leave you wanting more. David was soooo good looking. I also remember him from Greed of Man. I wish that he had taken more of a lead in that series as the villain. (Too much Adam, not enough of his sons).

    Angela was absolutely unforgettable in The Breaking Point. I never saw her in anything else and I didn't know what her real name was for the longest time!

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  2. @retrotvb: Haha...my list of series to watch / re-watch gets longer and longer by the month! Sometimes, it truly is the cast that draws us in to a series initially, then the plot / storyline keeps us hooked...that's why both elements are so important.

    Yup, absolutely agree regarding Eddie, Sheren, and Frankie. Oh, I just realized I didn't comment about Frankie in the "additional thoughts' section -- but that's ok....I think I mention about him in other series reviews already.

    So true regarding David and Angela! I also agree that I wanted to see more of David in Greed of Man -- well, part of that too was because I absolutely can't stand Adam Cheng (both as an actor in real life and his character in this particular series). In fact, I hated his character in the series so much that there were many moments where I felt like slapping him silly! LOL!

    But yea, David is definitely one of those actors who has the whole package -- good looks as well as talent. And he's one of the few on my list who I love watching as both "good" as well as "evil"! (my list pretty much has like 5 people on it).

    Well, you didn't miss much with Angela, since she was only in 5 or 6 series total at TVB and her only role of huge significance was in The Breaking Point. I didn't know her name either in the beginning, but after watching The Breaking Point like a gazillion times, I finally figured out who she was after awhile...hahaha!

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