Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Forensic Heroes II (法證先鋒II) - Review (Complete)

*Warning: Spoilers Ahead*
Brief Synopsis:
Forensic Heroes II is the sequel to the highly successful Forensic Heroes I. The characters of FH are brought back to deal with a new series of crimes that, again, challenges the team's wits against those of the murderers. In addition to the old cast, which included Bobby Au as Tim Sir, Frankie Lam as Dr. Sam Koo, Yoyo Mung as Madam Leung Siu Yau, and Linda Chung (though briefly) as Ding Ding, two new characters were added to the mix - Kevin Cheng as Ivan Yeung and Charmaine Sheh as Madam Ma Kwok Ying. The series continues to explore the fascinating world of forensic science through various cases

Main Character Analysis and Portrayal:
Bobby Au Yeung as Tim Sir - I don't think it needs to be stated that Bobby did a great job as Tim Sir. I think it's safe to say that the man has the role of the very professional and knowledgeable official down. He's portrayed this type of role in a number of series, and I think it'd be nice for him to be cast into something a little outside the box. But I digress.. There's not much character development for Tim Sir in FHII, since it seems like the writers were more focused on the establishment of the new characters. However, the qualities that were introduced in FHI were reinforced and strengthened in FHII. He is still the very observant, very intelligent, and very caring, though somewhat workaholic, Tim Sir that we know and love from the first part. Paying great attention to detail, he is able to reenact the crime scene in his head just by looking at the evidence that is present. Though somewhat lacking in the romantic department (often taking cues from Sam), Tim Sir is committed and tries his best to make his relationship with Madam Leung work. In the end, he is successful and the two get married. Overall, excellent portrayal and good character, if somewhat put in the background this time around.

Frankie Lam as Sam Koo - "Kool" and reserved, the character of Sam is another one of the main returning members of the forensics team. He performs the autopsies of victims of crimes and helps Tim Sir gather evidence from from the dead to help facilitate cases. Calm and collected, it is not often that people see the emotional side of Sam. For those who thought that Frankie's portrayal in here was wooden, I would have to disagree. I think it's part of his character. Just look at the scenes involving the death of Ding Ding. He was able to show how much he loved her and how deeply it hurt him to see her depart in such a way. I'm glad that his character stayed faithful to Ding Ding throughout FHII and did not so easily come to realize that he did have feelings for Madam Ma. It just goes to show how much he actually did care about Ding Ding. When he finally did come to the realization that he was beginning to have some feelings for Madam Ma, he was hesitant and did not attempt to tell her, knowing well that his best friend, Ivan, was in love with her. From this, along with the back story of Sam and Ivan, it can be seen how much he valued brotherly friendship. Great character and a good job on Frankie's part.

Yoyo Mung as Madam Leung Siu Yau - Although I'm not a big fan of Yoyo Mung as an actress, I did feel that her part should have been a little more significant. Besides serving as the love interest of Tim Sir, Madam Leung was not really a big part of the series. Due to injuries to her arm and ear, she is no longer able to be on active duty as the madam, passing that role onto Madam Ma. I liked how they showed the doubt and fear that she had after sustaining the injuries, and how Tim Sir was able to gradually pull her out of that. Even though she's a Madam and is trained to be prepared to deal with any situation, a sudden disability like the one she got is bound to cause anyone to doubt themselves. Overall, she really took the backstage in FHII, allowing for Charmaine to take the forefront of the investigations.

Linda Chung as Ding Ding - Another character from FHI who took the backseat in FHII. Linda Chung plays the adorable and charming Lam Ding Ding. Unfortunately she is killed by a bomb right before she is supposed to get married to Sam. She loves Sam very much, and the two are very in tune with one another. The idea of having sneakers at their wedding was cute, and it was touching to see how Same hand glued all of the little sparkling beads onto the shoes for Linda and how Linda hand glued all the beads onto the show key chain. Knowing that Ding Ding was never able to see the sneakers that Same spent so much time on was really heart breaking, especially due to the fact that it was only a day or two before her wedding! A good performance by Linda, though she only had about four episodes to show her stuff since she was killed off pretty early.

Charmaine Sheh as Madam Ma Kwok Ying - The cool, collected, and strong in personality, Madam Ma gets things done efficiently by keeping a firm working code. Initially, she is disliked by the other characters for her overly cool personality, but it is revealed that she does, in fact, care for her underlings. The reason she appears so hard on the outside is because of her previous relationship, in which her fiancee was shot right before her eyes as she was about to sign the papers to get married. That would be absolutely horrible, and a good reason for her to cut herself off from others. Her relationship with Ivan was very cute, and I'm glad that it all worked out for her in the end (at least that's what we are led to think). Good performance from Charmaine, though I would like to see her take some new roles. We've seen her as the cutesy "ba ja mui" in series such as Point of New Return and Witness to a Prosectuion. We've seen her as the head strong, independent woman in FHII, Detective Investigation FIles IV, and Drive of Life. Hopefully there will be more types of roles for Charmaine, because she definitely has shown her ability to act in different roles (i.e. War and Beauty, Dance of Passion, and Maiden's Vow).

Kevin Cheng as Ivan Yeung - I really liked the character of Ivan in this series. He is the bomb expert from out of the country who returned and became a forensic scientist under the leadership of Tim Sir. Compassionate, romantic, and goal-oriented, Ivan will sacrifice himself to protect the ones he loves. I love how he was so romantic to Bell (Madam Leung), baking cookies for her and taking her to the pier. He shows how much he will sacrifice for his friends as he tells Sam to leave first on the boat before it explodes. He knows that once he releases the trigger, the bomb will continue its countdown at a quicker rate, but he lies to Sam so that the both of them won't have to suffer. Ivan, along with Madam Leung, really takes the spotlight in FHII. I really enjoyed Kevin's depiction of Ivan here. I don't remember too many series in which he plays such a light-hearted and charismatic character. It's nice to see him smile and laugh more in this series, as opposed to the cool and serious characters that he is often cast into.

One of the big issues many people have with this series is that the cases are not as good as in FHI. I tend to agree with this point of view. Some of the cases were good, but the majority of them were really, really easy to figure out. It's also kinda boring when they are able to find every single little detail, down to a thread in the most obscure place ever. Combined with the fact that Tim Sir is the "walking encyclopedia" who can figure any case out, the routine gets a bit monotonous. It's like the cases don't even seem challenging to the forensics team and police. So these cases were a bit of a disappointment.

I would have to say my favorite case was the last one, involving Selena Li. I may be personally biased due to how much I like Selena, but I thought it was interesting, and Selena's Kit played a great foil to Charmaine's Madam Ma. It was an interesting interaction as Selena knew all the ins and outs of the law, being a law student before becoming the assistant to the rich guy.

For me, the ending was not as bad as I had heard from before I watched it. From what people were saying, it seemed like there was absolutely no closure whatsoever with Ivan and Bell and that it was just an absolutely horrible ending. I would disagree with this. It seemed quite clear in the ending that Ivan was ok, even if they did not show it. It wasn't open for interpretation for me. If they had cut to the credits when Charmaine was on the phone, I would have been really upset, but they showed her running to the hospital exclaiming that Ivan is awake! So, for me, the ending is fine the way it is.

For me, Forensic Heroes II was not something I was particularly excited about. I liked FHI but it wasn't something I actively looked forward to. I'm more a family drama type of guy, so my eyes are set on Moonlight Resonance and The Gem of Life. However, I wouldn't say FHII was bad. It was good at what it was meant to be, a forensics TV show. Even though the cases were not the greatest, and some of the older characters were moved back to less important roles, FHII was a decent show.

Final Rating: 85/100

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