Producer: Lau Ka Ho (劉家豪)
Cast: Bosco Wong (黃宗澤), Linda Chung (鍾嘉欣), Paul Chun (秦沛), Ram Tseung (蔣志光), Ronald Law (羅鈞滿), Cilla Kung (樂瞳), Queenie Chu (朱慧敏), Rachel Kan (簡慕華), Eric Li (李天翔), Lee Kwok Lun (李國麟), Geoffrey Wong (黃子雄), Savio Tsang (曾偉權), Yeung Ching Wah (楊證樺), Lee Yee Man (李綺雯), Jonathan Cheung (張穎康), etc.
**SPOILER ALERT: For those who haven't watched this series and don't want to be 'spoiled' with knowing some of the details of the series beforehand, then I recommend not reading this review, as there are details mentioned that I feel are necessary in order for me to write this review properly. Not to mention there will also be some mention of the ending as well, especially since there was quite a bit of 'controversy' surrounding it.
Before I start, I will say that I am probably in the 'minority' in terms of people who really liked this series and felt that pretty much everyone (from the main leads to the supporting cast) did a good job with the acting. I know that certain artists in the series have a lot of anti-fans (which is quite obvious based on all the on-line comments I’ve read the past few weeks) and as a result, there may be quite a few people out there who refused to watch this series at all or if they watched, skipped majority of the scenes with particular artists – that’s definitely those audience’s prerogative and I have no intention of changing it. However the point that I want to make is that as a neutral bystander who neither likes nor dislikes the main leads, I am writing this review from the 'neutral' perspective and everything contained in it is my personal impression of the series, regardless of what my feelings are towards any of the artists – so basically, those who hate any of the artists in the series and can't bear to hear anything good said about them should just skip this review completely.
Ok, so with the 'disclaimers' out of the way, on to the actual review....
Witness Insecurity [referred to in the rest of this review as WI] just finished airing this past Friday and already, I’ve watched the series twice (partly because I liked the series but also because of the convenient timeslot that it airs here in the U.S., which allows for re-airing of each week’s episodes on the weekend). I will be the first to admit that I absolutely did not think that I would like this series, primarily because the premise of the series wasn't fresh or creative (the whole witness protection thing has definitely been done before, more than once in fact) and also I'm not a fan of Bosco or Linda (especially Linda, since her last few series left a bad taste in my mouth and so I didn't think that I would be able to tolerate her in this series). Therefore, I went into this series without any expectations whatsoever and to my surprise, I actually ended up liking the series quite a lot (I was pretty much hooked from episode 1 all the way to the end…)
In my opinion, one of the biggest things that made this series so good was the cast -- from the main leads (Bosco and Linda) to the 'heavy supporting' artists (Paul, Ram, Ronald, Cilla, Queenie, Lee Sing Cheong, Eric Li, Savio Tsang, etc.) to the 'lesser supporting' artists (Lee Yee Man, Jonathan, Lee Kwok Lun, Rachel, the rest of the artists who portrayed either WPU staff or police officers in the criminal investigation department, etc.) -- no matter how big or small the role, practically everyone put in good performances...THAT's really what left a deep impression on me in terms of this series (I’ll go into more detail about each person’s performance later on in this review). I know a lot of people might disagree with me here, but hey, it’s my opinion after all…
Of course, no series is without flaws and this series was definitely no exception -- in fact, I would have to say that there were plenty of flaws and 'inconsistencies' in the script as well as several moments where, while watching the series, I felt like I just wanted to 'kill' the scriptwriters (more about this later). Even though this did detract from the series overall, it wasn’t completely unsalvageable, at least not for me – I still continued watching the series and enjoyed it
SCRIPT / STORYLINE
My biggest complaint about the series is really with the script. The series actually started off quite good in the beginning, with the engaging storyline involving the WPU and the exciting action sequences as well as the 'setting up' of the romantic storyline between Hui Sir and Hailey -- plus the interaction and chemistry between the entire cast was at its best during these first 11-12 episodes or so: I especially enjoyed the chemistry between the WPU team and was really looking forward to seeing more of them....but unfortunately, during the second half of the series, the storyline sort of 'fell apart' in that the series moved away from the 'witness protection' theme (since the assignment to protect Hailey was over and Hui Sir was promoted and subsequently transferred) and focused primarily on the conflict between the Kiu brothers and Hui Sir. I probably would have been ok with this had they [the writers] developed the romantic relationship between Hui Sir and Hailey more in the second half (since, after all, that was the whole point of the series, right?) -- BUT, that didn't happen either....instead, we have this 'tortured' pseudo-romance storyline between the two main leads and even up until the tragic end, they don't officially even get together. It was definitely disappointing to see the second half of the series stray so far away from the original premise and theme of the series.
Don't get me wrong, there were still quite a few scenes in the second half of the series that I enjoyed, but as a whole, the first half was definitely way better -- the storyline in the second half was too messy and the direction that the writers decided to take was not really logical. Even though I still liked the series overall and continued to stick with it because I like the cast and also because I wanted to see how the relationship between Bosco and Linda's characters develop, I know that alot of people stopped watching the series after the storyline started straying off course, which is very unfortunate.
This series was produced by Lau Ka Ho and one thing I’ve noticed about his series in general is that a lot of times, the storylines veer off course and the scripts are not as tightly written as they could be. When I first started watching WI, I thought this series might be an exception, but now after finishing this series, turns out that it still followed a similar pattern – the only difference is that at only 20 episodes, this series is way shorter than many of LKH’s other ‘epics’ and so there was less room for the ‘dragginess’ that I typically see with his other series (most of which were 30 episodes or more). Given the way the script was written, perhaps this was a good thing? Personally though, I think this series would have benefited from having another 5 episodes at least -- I think that if that had occurred, then the storyline would have likely gone in a more ‘appropriate’ direction and the sub-stories as well as many of the other supporting characters could have been more properly developed.
One last thing about the script….maybe it’s just me, but with the way the script was written, there were quite a few characters in the series who were pretty much ‘useless’ and really were just ‘there’ for the sake of being there – for example: Brian Chu’s character as Jo Jo’s younger brother, Deno Cheung’s character as the leader of one of the police teams, Glenn Lee’s character as Mrs. Kiu’s (Rachel Kan) younger brother (he only appeared for like 2 scenes), etc. Even Rachel Kan’s character was kind of ‘nonessential’ if you ask me – though she gets plenty of screen time compared to some of the others, her character really didn’t do much. To me, these characters were basically just ‘fillers’, as they didn’t advance the storyline much at all and didn’t serve any real purpose in the series. It sort of made me wonder why the scriptwriters even bothered writing their characters into the script and ‘wasting’ precious ‘plot space’ (as well as screen time) that could have been used to develop other sub stories.
Speaking of characters, what an appropriate segue into a discussion of the cast….
CAST / CHARACTERS
As I said earlier, when I first read the cast list for this series, I wasn’t much impressed, as there were quite a few artists in the series that I didn’t particularly care for in terms of acting and the ones I do care about I didn’t think would have significant roles – but after watching some of the preview clips that had aired the week prior to the official premiere of the series (no, not the ‘fake’ promo clip that was pretty much just a ‘gimmick’ and had nothing to do with the series), I decided to give the series a chance, since I saw that a few of my favorite actors (namely Paul Chun and Ram Tseung) would have pretty ‘meaty’ roles in the series. Turns out I made the right decision!
In terms of cast, I definitely wouldn’t consider this one ‘all-star’, as there were quite a few ‘newer’ artists whose names I didn’t even know prior to watching this series. But as I’ve been noticing more and more the past few years, there doesn’t necessarily need to be a whole lot of ‘big names’ in a series in order for it to be a ‘good’ series – with the right combination of good acting, well-written characters, and a decently written script, a series can still have a strong impact on audiences and garner good word of mouth as well as high ratings (as this series did).
Again, unlike some of my past reviews, I’m not going to go into too much detail about the characters themselves but rather just focus on my thoughts toward the characters as well as the artists who portrayed them.
So without further adieu, here’s my ‘take’ on the main cast…
Bosco Wong (Hui Wai Sum / Hui Sir) – Bosco’s character is a cop who, for the first half of the series, is the leader of the Witness Protection Unit (WPU) and due to his success in that role, he’s promoted in the second half of the series and transferred to the criminal investigation unit to head up a team there. In my opinion, the character of ‘Hui Sir’ is definitely one of the biggest draws of this series, as his character is written in such a way that it’s really hard for audiences not to like him or be smitten by his charm. Personality-wise, Hui Sir is the epitome of ‘cool’ and ‘suave’ – he’s smart, handsome, and is pretty much a natural-born leader (which came about in part because of his independence at an early age due to him growing up in an orphanage). It can be said that Hui Sir was born to be a cop, as he has strong investigative instincts as well as an unwavering sense of righteousness and justice. One of the biggest traits that sets Hui Sir apart from others is his extremely high EQ – no matter how difficult a situation is, he is always able to handle it with a calm, composed disposition.
Bosco did a great job with his character in this series and definitely left a deep impression on me with his performance. I will admit that I was never really fond of some of the roles Bosco played in the past – in fact, in general, I can’t really even remember too many of his past performances (probably because I never really paid attention). Therefore, I was actually a little bit surprised myself that I came to like his character so much – of course, part of the credit goes to the writers for the way they developed the character, but Bosco should also be given credit for the way he portrayed the character – in other words, for the way he ‘acted’ the part. When I first started watching this series and read the description of the character, I was a bit concerned in the beginning on whether Bosco would be convincing enough in such a mature, serious role – mainly because most of his roles in the past were sort of catered to his boyish, ‘sunshine’ image (even the past roles where he played a ‘professional’ such as a cop or a fireman, he still had that ‘boyish’ trait to him – probably the only other role where I didn’t get that impression was his villain performance as ‘Bai Co’ in last year’s Lives of Omission). However, it turns out that my concern wasn’t warranted, as Bosco handled the role of Hui Wai Sum extremely well.
What I liked most about Bosco’s performance in this series was how ‘natural’ and ‘comfortable’ the role came across –with the way his character was written, there was quite a lot of ‘inner acting’ involved, since there were many moments where his character doesn’t say much, but yet still manages to convey his thoughts and feelings through his facial expressions as well as the way he carried himself (this was especially apparent during the first half of the series). Though I’m not a fan of Bosco’s by any means, this was one performance that definitely changed my impression of him as an actor and made me realize that with all the similar roles he played, his potential wasn’t really properly tapped into in the past (which is not surprising since that’s TVB’s typical way of managing their artists). I feel that with the proper cultivation in the right direction, Bosco has the potential to take his acting to a higher level – at this point in his career, he really should be taking on more mature, challenging roles rather than the ‘playful’ ones that he’s had in the past. With his role in his series as well as in LOO last year, looks like he’s headed in the right direction (for now at least…).
Linda Chung (Kiu Ji Lam / Hailey) – Linda plays the daughter of a rich tycoon who has a mood (anxiety) disorder resulting from a few tragic events that she had encountered when she was a child. In the beginning of the series, she is very anti-social and doesn’t like to talk or interact with anyone – she relies on playing the cello to release her inner tensions and regularly sees a therapist for treatment. However, after meeting Hui Sir and the rest of the WPU team and interacting with them for a certain period of time (since they were assigned to protect her after she witnesses a shooting), she starts to open up more and becomes a more cheerful person. By the end of the series, her personality has completely changed from what it was in the beginning and she no longer needs to go through therapy treatments in order to live a ‘normal’ life.
Contrary to popular opinion, I feel that Linda actually did a pretty good job with her acting in this series (don’t shoot me!). That’s actually saying a lot given the fact that I’ve never been impressed with Linda’s acting because I’ve always felt that somehow, her acting tends to come across as ‘exaggerated’ and ‘fake’ to me – especially when she tries to take on roles that are outside of her realm (such as a ‘bad girl’ type character or someone who is mean-spirited for example). Of course, part of the reason why I’ve never really been able to tolerate most of Linda’s performances in the past is because I can’t stand weak, pathetic, weepy, wishy-washy type characters and somehow she almost always ends up playing these types of characters.
Interestingly enough, Linda’s portrayal of Hailey actually left a completely different impression on me. Some might say that the role of Hailey was not too different than Linda’s usual ‘good girl’ type roles (which I kind of agree with), but in my opinion, the character was a bit better written than some of her other roles and most importantly, the role really suited her well (I heard the role was especially written for her?). Now I will say that Linda’s acting in the first 3 episodes (when she’s supposed to have that mood disorder illness that caused her to be very anti-social and paranoid about everything) was truly not that good (and in a few scenes, were probably ‘cringe-worthy’), but starting with episode 4 up through the end of the series, she actually does get a lot better – to the point that I actually started liking her character and really was able to feel for her throughout the series. One thing that impressed me about Linda’s acting in this series is that she did the ‘I’ve got a huge crush on Hui Sir’ scenes quite well – those scenes were very convincing and sweet. Also, Linda’s crying scenes were more tolerable in this series versus her previous works – I’m guessing that she toned down her crying a bit after being criticized for so many years about it? Well, the improvement is pretty obvious because outside of the first 3 episodes, Linda’s crying scenes were adequately done throughout the rest of the series (at least I didn’t find her annoying in this series at all).
One area that I feel Linda has definitely improved on is her use of facial expressions – there were quite a few scenes throughout the series where I felt that Linda’s facial expressions were very ‘on the spot’ and conveyed just the right amount of emotion. Of course, she’s still young and her acting still has A LOT of room for improvement (for instance, I don’t feel that her acting is mature enough to handle certain roles yet) – hopefully she will continue to get better with time.
With all that said though, my opinion of Linda overall does not change in that I'm still not tremendously fond of her as an actress because I feel that she’s still too much of a ‘hit and miss’ when it comes to her acting and therefore really can't carry a series on her own yet. For me, whether I'm able to tolerate Linda in a series or not really depends upon her role in the particular series as well as who she is paired up with. With my overall low tolerance level, I definitely wouldn't purposefully seek out a series and watch it just because Linda is in it, but if a series of hers happened to come on TV, I wouldn't mind watching it -- in other words, I'm not the type of person to stop watching / not watch a series just because I dislike a particular artist....to me, the storyline matters alot too and without attempting to watch the series, it's hard to truly know whether the series will be any good. Most of the time, I usually give the series a try and let the acting / storyline 'persuade' me to keep watching (or not)....
Bosco / Linda pairing– I never thought I would say this, but I’m absolutely smitten with this pairing after watching this series (yes, once again, I was surprised myself at how much I grew to ‘love’ this pairing). The chemistry that Bosco and Linda had in this series was quite amazing! I can’t think of any other series where 1) the main ‘couple’ never even officially become a couple in the series (from the beginning until the very end, Hui Sir and Hailey never officially get together – their relationship was pretty much ‘doomed’ before it even started), and 2) the ‘love’ feelings are pretty much one-sided throughout the entire series (Hailey has a crush on Hui Sir and even though he later develops feelings for her, those feelings never really turn into ‘love’), yet so many audiences (myself included) loved their pairing. [And I’m not just saying this – the proof is in the numbers: when Linda posted a photo of herself and Bosco (as Hailey and Hui Sir) on her Weibo during WI’s finale week, it received over 40K ‘retweets’ and over 15K comments in less than a day!]
This was actually the third time that Bosco and Linda were paired together as a couple (the previous 2 times were in Gem of Life and Moonlight Resonance – I will be absolutely honest and say that I don’t remember anything about their previous 2 pairings whatsoever, even though I had watched both series. I’m sure they had plenty of ‘sweet scenes’ in those 2 series too, but I don’t remember a single one – either I didn’t really pay attention and completely missed their scenes (which is possible but highly unlikely) or they didn’t have as much chemistry onscreen back then as they did in this series. After watching WI, I ‘adore’ this couple a lot for some unexplainable reason – I enjoyed every single one of their scenes together (even the ‘painful’ ones where they part ways with each other) and every time there was a ‘sweet moment’ between these two (mostly through eye contact or some other subtle expression), I couldn’t help myself from going: “Aww, how sweet!” [Some examples of Hui Sir / Hailey ‘sweet’ moments: the garden scene in episode 4, the cactus scene in episode 6, the Disneyland scenes in episode 8, and of course, the scene in episode 7 when Hailey gets shot and Hui Sir catches her from falling to the floor just in time, then picks her up and protectively carries her in his arms and runs through door after door to get her to the car and to the hospital (and accidentally hurting himself in the process)....true, a bad situation had happened, but the way it was filmed made it more sweet than it was tragic! I even found the scenes where Hailey would ‘steal glances’ at Hui Sir (unbeknownst to him) to be very cute and sweet!].
I definitely miss this pairing now that the series is over (especially with the tragic way that the series ended) – hope that I’ll get to see this pairing again in the near future!
Paul Chun (Kiu Kong San / Big Mr. Kiu) -- Paul Gor’s character is a rich tycoon with a shady past who lost both his wife and his son earlier on, so he focuses all his effort on loving his daughter and giving her everything possible. To be honest, despite Kong San’s past, I really don’t feel that he’s truly a ‘villain’ in this series, as the ‘motivation’ for a lot of the ‘pushing the envelope’ stuff he does in the second half of the series was primarily out of love for his daughter – he just goes about it the wrong way. I actually like his character better in the first half of the series, as his love for his daughter as well as his younger brother (Ram Tseung’s character) was more apparent and the stuff that he did actually made sense – some of his actions in the second half were sort of questionable to me and overall just didn’t jive that well with the overall storyline. I mean, yes, the sub-story about Kong San’s past was intriguing, but I feel that the writers could have written that whole story arc a little tighter and not drag it out for so long.
In terms of the acting – well, what can I say? It’s Paul Gor after all -- he’s one of the best ‘elder’ / veteran actors out there! I grew up watching Paul Gor in movies and television series, so I’m already very used to his style of acting – I love his versatility as an actor and how he can play a wide range of roles: from the most cold-blooded of villains to one of the most benevolent, lovable fathers we’ll ever find. I can truly say that I enjoyed Paul’s performance throughout the entire series, even in the second half when the storyline started to unravel a little bit and strayed from the original theme. I’m actually really glad that Paul Gor had such a significant role in this series (his screen time was actually not that much less than Bosco’s) because even if I didn’t really like the direction of the series in the second half, I could at least still enjoy his acting!
Ram Tseung (Kiu Kong Hor / Little Mr. Kiu) – Ram’s character Kong Hor is the younger brother of Paul’s Kong San. The best way to describe Kong Hor is ‘laid-back’– he has a very friendly personality and playful sense of humor that helps him get along well with practically anyone. With the way that he’s always cracking jokes and taking pretty much everything that happens in stride (even something as ‘serious’ as getting shot in the head), he sort of reminds me of a hyper little kid in a man’s body. I really liked his character in the first half of the series especially, where he was the constant ‘comic relief’ and always managed to bring a smile to everyone’s face. His biggest flaw though was that he liked to ‘shoot off his mouth’, especially after he’s had a few drinks (this gets him into trouble early on and almost costs him his life). Unfortunately, his character changes a bit in the second half of the series – no, he doesn’t turn evil (thank goodness!), but his character does become a little more ‘serious’ and loses the humorous ‘charm’ that he consistently had through most of the first half. It’s too bad because I really did like his character and was looking forward to seeing more of his charm…
I actually was a bit surprised at how significant Ram’s role was in the series, especially in the first half – because the past few years, he had been relegated to playing lesser roles (or a villain role) for the most part. Not that I’m complaining though, since Ram has always been one of my favorite supporting actors – I always enjoy watching him in series because he always manages to bring his role to life with his performance, no matter how big or small his part is. In fact, whenever he’s in a series, I usually find myself watching most of the scenes that he’s in, even if I end up skipping the rest of the series because I can’t stand the storyline or the rest of the cast – and whether he’s playing a good guy or a villain, he’s always very convincing with his performance (yes, he’s THAT good!). He’s definitely very underrated as an actor and I really wish that TVB would give him more significant roles to play. Ah well – I’ll still continue to support him regardless of the types of roles he gets!
Ronald Law (Yeung Yiu Dong / Ba Da) – Ronald’s character is a young cop with a lot of potential who looks up to Hui Sir (Bosco) as a mentor and ‘big brother’ of sorts. He first met Hui Sir while at the academy and later when he was assigned to work with him in the WPU, they became best friends – Hui Sir treats him just like his own little brother (hence Ronald’s nickname in the series ‘Ba Da’). Ba Da is actually a very endearing character because he always has a certain earnestness and boyish charm about him – he’s a very sweet, super nice person who pretty much anyone would find likable (of course, those dimples of his help a lot too…LOL!) One of Ba Da’s most admirable traits is that he is extremely loyal and once he makes a decision to follow someone, he’s unwavering in his dedication and loyalty – he’s like that with Hui Sir as well as with Jo Jo (Hui Sir’s cousin), whom he has a huge crush on throughout the series. I actually really liked Ronald’s character in this series and enjoyed his interactions with Bosco’s character – I loved the ‘heart to heart’ conversations that they would have in the series where they would encourage one another and give each other advice (though more often than not it was more like Hui Sir giving Ba Da advice and trying to steer him in the right direction in terms of his life and career). The brotherly chemistry between the two was done very nicely!
In terms of acting, I would say that Ronald did a pretty good job considering he’s a newbie – of course he still needs polish, but he did come across quite natural in his role of you ask me (though part of that could have been because the role fit him well). Prior to this series, I really wasn’t too familiar with Ronald, as the only other series that I had seen him in was When Heaven Burns and his role in that series was definitely less significant compared to this one. I liked him in this series and from his strong performance, it looks like he has does have potential as an actor – give him a couple years and if developed correctly, I think he will do well.
Cilla Kung (Lee Hau Yan / Jo Jo) – Cilla’s character is a typical materialistic youth who is overly ambitious when it comes to climbing the social ladder and is constantly chasing the latest societal as well as fashion trends. Her goal in life is to marry a rich person in the future so that she can be set for life and also be ‘known’ in upper society -- which is why she is ecstatic when she finds out that her cousin Hui Wai Sum (Bosco) is assigned to protect Hailey (Linda), daughter of a rich tycoon. Not surprisingly, she becomes good friends with Hailey and even tries to serve as the ‘matchmaker’ for her and Hui Sir. Jo Jo actually isn’t a bad person by any means, she’s just a little bit annoying at times with her overzealousness in trying to become rich and famous. I was ok with her character, though I really didn’t like the way that she would treat Ba Da (basically leading him to think that he had a shot at being her boyfriend so that he would continue to give her gifts and such). Luckily she redeemed herself in the latter part of the series when she recognizes how wrongly she had treated Ba Da and resolves to be a more responsible person (though of course, it was too late to salvage her relationship with Ba Da, since he was killed off in episode 17). I don’t really have much opinion about Cilla as an actress because I haven’t watched enough of her performances to fairly judge. I will say though that she wasn’t too bad in this particular series – in fact she came across quite natural, since the character she played was probably close enough to her real age and seemed to suit her style.
Eric Li (Tong Jun Gai / Shawn) – Eric’s character Shawn actually does not have a whole lot of screen time, but his character is quite significant in terms of story development. He consistently appears in the first few episodes, then pretty much disappears for awhile and doesn’t appear again until the final 2 episodes. In the beginning, I was a little confused in terms of Shawn’s character and what his relationship was with the Kiu family (they never really properly introduced him) – at first, I thought that he was some sort of relative of the family, but it turns out he’s not related to them at all. Basically, he’s the son of a deceased tycoon whom Kong San takes under his wing and provides for him (we only find out the real reason why Kong San provides for Shawn later on in the series). To be honest, I don’t really like the way Shawn’s character was written because he was kind of all over the place and it was not really clear until the end of the series what the significance was of his character – I think his character could have definitely been developed more and perhaps have the story arc focus more on him in the second half of the series (rather than just in the last 2 episodes). To me, it seemed kind of ‘random’ the way he would pop in and out throughout the series and sort of made it difficult to really get into his character.
I was actually hoping that Eric wouldn’t have to play the villain again in this series, especially after his awesome performance as a good guy in Bottled Passion earlier in the year. Unfortunately, he does go down the ‘villain’ path in this series as well – though I guess if we want to get technical, he wasn’t exactly the ‘bad guy’ in the traditional sense of the word. He basically becomes a totally different person in the last 2 episodes of the series because of the stuff he encounters (losing all his money, taking drugs, etc.) and that’s really what affects his actions – I guess we could say that he was more a confused drug addict than he was a murderous villain. I’ve really got to hand it to Eric for his performance in this series – despite his limited screentime and the not very well-written character, he was quite excellent in his role. He really shined in the last 2 episodes of the series when his character returned as a delirious drug addict – he had changed so much physically that I actually was not able to recognize him from the pictures and spoiler scenes that I had seen prior to those episodes airing! He really played the drug addict role well (couldn’t help but laugh at his “my doctor told me to take lots of medication (drugs)” dialogue). I know, I should probably hate Shawn after what he does to our beloved Hui Sir, but I’m sorry – I like Eric too much as an actor recently that it’s really hard for me to be mad at him for long….
Add’l Cast / Characters
With the way the storyline developed primarily around the Kiu family and Hui Sir, there were actually quite a few artists who participated in the series on a lesser scale with relatively minor roles. Here are a few ‘honorable mentions’ (note that one ‘common theme’ with the below characters is that all of them could really have benefitted from being furthered developed – instead, many of them were ‘short-changed’ due to the way the script was written).
Rachel Kan (Tina) – Kong San’s second wife, Hailey’s stepmother. As mentioned earlier, I sort of felt Rachel’s character was ‘nonessential’ in that she really doesn’t do anything to further the plot except for maybe have a few ‘minor’ conflicts with Hailey in the first few episodes. After that, I don’t see much significance in her character – during the second half of the series, she’s basically just ‘there’. Even after finishing the series, I was still scratching my head and wondering what the writers’ / producer’s purpose was for including Rachel in this series. Don’t get me wrong – she did do a decent job with the acting given what she had (though honestly, I don’t think Rachel is that much older than Linda so for her to play her stepmother was a little bit far-fetched), but it was sort of a waste, I feel
Queenie Chu (Kelly) – Hailey’s therapist and also good friend. Compared to some of the other series she’s been in, Queenie has a relatively minor role in here as Kelly, the therapist / psychiatrist who is responsible for treating Hailey (Linda). Maybe her character wasn’t written well or something because I honestly didn’t really like her character much – I mean, she was a good friend for Hailey and goes beyond what a normal therapist would do by accompanying her on trips and other events, but as a psychiatrist / therapist, I didn’t feel that Kelly was ‘professional’ enough. The ‘advice’ that she gives Hailey throughout the series is sort of ‘suspect’ in that it wavers back and forth – to the point that at times, I felt that Kelly was being insincere (it was like she just tells Hailey what she wants to hear to appease her). I don’t know too much about psychiatry / therapy, so I’m probably not the best person to comment about it, but overall, her character just came across a little strange to me, that’s all.
Lee Sing Cheong (Ho Siu Leung) – Kiu Kong San’s ultra-loyal assistant. Ah Leung is the person whom Kong San (Paul) trusts the most outside of his own brother. He has worked for Kong San for decades and is super loyal to him, even willing to sacrifice his own life for him. In the first half of the series, his role is relatively minor, but near the middle / end of the series (for probably about 2-3 episodes), he becomes more of a critical character. Even though his role was small in this series, Lee Sing Cheong definitely delivered the goods (as usual) – his few ‘essential’ scenes in episodes 15 to 17 were done really well, especially the crying scenes. Lee Sing Cheong is another veteran actor whom I grew up watching – his villain roles are generally quite good and very convincing….too bad his role was relatively minor, as I would have liked to see more significant screen time from him.
Savio Tsang (Poon Sir) – As the head of the criminal investigation unit, Savio’s character only appears once in the first half of the series – it’s not until Bosco’s character Hui Sir is transferred to Poon Sir’s department that he takes on a more significant role (since Hui Sir reports to Poon Sir directly). With that said however, Savio actually doesn’t have a whole lot of screen time either, which was a little disappointing for me because I like him as an actor and his character had good room for development. I liked how Poon Sir was a very cool, understanding boss who goes very much by the rules, but still is able to maintain a good relationship with his subordinates. I also liked the way he interacted with his staff, especially with Hui Sir, whom he treated more as a friend than as his staff. Though I can understand why his role was less significant in the scheme of things, I really would have liked to see more of him as well.
Joseph Lee Kwok Lun (Sapura) – Rich tycoon from Indonesia with ties to the Kiu brothers’ past. He only appears in a few episodes during the second half of the series and even after he dies, most of the storyline in that segment of the series revolves around his case. This was yet another ‘run of the mill’ villain role for Joseph – a role so easy that he could have probably done it with his eyes closed (especially with his acting experience and skill). Again, I’m not really complaining because Joseph is another one of my long-time favorite veteran actors and I’m happy to still see him in series nowadays – but his appearance just seemed way too short…
Law Lok Lam (Yung Sui Bong) – Another actor I like a lot, but unfortunately his character was kind of insignificant as well. He’s one of the rich tycoons in the series on the same level as Paul Chun’s character, but we really don’t get to see much of him and when we do, it’s usually at some sort of gathering with Kong San and his other rich tycoon friends. Law Lok Lam is definitely underutilized in this series, which is really a shame because he’s too good of an actor to be given such a minor role. TVB should have just had someone else play this role instead and not waste LLL’s time!
WPU team: Jonathan Cheung (Wong Chi Tong / ‘Flat Tire’), Lee Yee Man (Cheung Lai Kuen / ‘See Jie’), Yeung Ching Wah (Chan Ka Si / ‘Sa See’), etc. – Considering the WPU team consisted mostly of newbies and artists whose names I didn’t even know, I was surprised by how much I liked watching this team interact with each other. As a team, they really did a great job of bringing to light a lot of the ‘essential elements’ of the WPU – including team spirit and cooperation, reacting quickly to unexpected situations that arise, being constantly on alert and ready to take action, etc. – they were very ‘serious’ about their work when they needed to be, but outside of that, they were a playful bunch. The chemistry between the entire team and their leader (Bosco) as well as with the other ‘main players’ (i.e. Linda’s and Ram’s characters, etc.) was excellent and very well portrayed – in fact, I was quite saddened to learn that we wouldn’t be seeing anymore of this team after episode 10 (well, except for a brief appearance in episode 17 at Ba Da’s funeral) because I really really liked them as team. Together, they were key in making the first half of the series so good and even though a few of them get pulled over to the criminal investigation department along with Hui Sir, it just wasn’t the same ‘feeling’ anymore. Definitely makes me wish that the writers would have kept to the witness protection theme in the second half of the series as well and somehow still incorporate the team into the rest of the series…
THE ENDING / CONCLUDING THOUGHTS
Ok, I decided not to completely give away the ending after all (though it probably doesn’t make a difference at this point since the ending was already plastered all over Weibo and entertainment news sites even before the finale aired last Friday). All I’m going to say with regard to the ending is that it wasn’t really as bad as people made it out to be – true, I didn’t want the series to end the way it did given how much I loved the character of Hui Sir as well as the Bosco / Linda pairing, but I actually felt that the ending was appropriate given the circumstances. I mean, it was pretty much already a given that a ‘happy’ ending was impossible given everything that had occurred leading up to that point – and to be honest, forcing a ‘happily ever after’ ending would have been worse because it would have been too fake. Though the ending was tragic and yes, some parts of it was a bit overdramatic, I would have to say that overall, it was a fitting ending and appropriate ‘closure’ to the Hui Sir / Hailey relationship – the ending made sense and most important of all, it was both bittersweet and memorable (though not exactly favorable). [I’ll probably talk more about the ending later on in the comments section, since I don’t want to ruin it for those who haven’t watched the series].
As for the the massive ‘movement’ of netizens to push for a sequel or change the ending to the series – I’m actually on the opposite side of the fence in that I absolutely do NOT want a sequel (because TVB would just screw it up like they do with all their other sequels – plus the chemistry won’t be the same anyway) and do NOT want the ending changed (I’ve never been a fan of alternate endings because most of the ones that I’ve seen have been lame and stupid). What’s done is done, so just leave the series the way it is please!
So do I recommend this series? Obviously, yes!! As I mentioned earlier, the script is a bit flawed and as a result, the flow is a little inconsistent, but taken as a whole, this was definitely one of the better series of the year so far. The series has a good enough combination of action sequences, suspense, romance, family drama, investigative scenes, etc. that there should hopefully be something in there for all interests. The first half of the series was especially awesome and almost guaranteed to go by quickly (most of the big action sections are in the first half) – it’s only when we reach the second half of the series that things slow down a little bit too much (for me it wasn’t really a problem, but some people found the change in pace annoying). If the inconsistencies in the script is a big issue for you, then I recommend watch this series for the cast – as I said earlier, the performances from pretty much everyone were quite good….even those whom I’m usually not too fond of I ended up liking in this series.
Despite its flaws, I felt that this was a great series overall – one that I would rewatch in a heartbeat and still enjoy it as much as I did the first time!