Saturday, August 23, 2008

When a Dog Loves a Cat <當狗愛上貓> - Review

*Warning: Spoilers Ahead*
*Credit to AsianFanatics for the character pictures. *

Analysis and Portrayal of Main Characters:
Gallen Lo as Miu Chun (M.C.) - Independent and headstrong, M.C. lives alone with his cat, Cancan. After the death of his girlfriend (played by Tracy Ip), M.C. cuts himself off from everyone and masks his pain with work. The only one who he shows his softer side to is his cat, who was a gift from his girlfriend. His relationship with his parents is not good. He does not get along with his father, and his mother does not acknowledge that he is her son because she is married to a rich man who would mind. Throughout the series, M.C. slowly reveals himself to be caring. When he is saved by Siu Ba, he loses his bias toward dogs. With the help of Chow Chow's friendship, M.C. becomes a nicer person and is no longer regarded as "Mau Si" (Cat poop). Slowly, he falls for Chow Chow, and just when he is about to profess his love, he discovers that his cancer has reoccurred. Dealing with it in the only way he can, M.C. distances himself from everyone. However, Chow Chow eventually breaks through the tough exterior and gets M.C. to accept the fact that he can still spend what time he has left with the ones he loves.
I think Gallen did a good job in this role. He was able to portray the "cold-hearted" boss at the beginning, and also show that this character has more levels. He shows that beneath a hard exterior, there is a person who wants to be loved. The role was interesting, the acting was good.. what else is there to say? haha

Myolie Wu as Chow Chi Yu (Chow Chow) - Raised in a family that runs pet businesses, Chow Chow is a loving person who cares about animals. She does not care if the dog is a stray or a pedigree, she loves them all the same. At first, she doesn't mind not being able to be seen as Carson's girlfriend. But, with M.C.'s help, Chow Chow realizes that she should be more like a cat. With some training, she is able to get Carson to tell everyone their relationship and he becomes more loving and tender to her. However, soon after, she discovers Carson's affair with another woman, and the couple break up. With M.C.'s help, Chow Chow recovers and soon falls for him. She is confused when M.C. suddenly gives her and everyone around him the cold shoulder. But when she finds out the situation, she fully supports him and tries to convince him to let people he loves support him in his final days.
Myolie Wu does a great job with the character. She's isn't new to these types of characters, so she's familiar with how to do it. I thought the character was fun, though a bit naive at times, in particular with her relationship with Carson. The relationship with M.C. was a bitter sweet one, and I thought the ending was appropriate for the two, given the way the writers set it up.

Raymond Wong as Ying Hoi Leung (Carson) - Successful and good looking, Carson is Chow Chow's boyfriend. However, he does not want people to know about the relationship because he does not want to jeopardize any advantages that being single might confer to him in the business world. Until Chow Chow changes herself, Carson really does not treat her as a good boyfriend should. He changes himself when he sees the new Chow Chow; unfortunately, it was too late because he had already had an affair with someone else. After their break up, Carson continues to be a friend of Chow Chow and is willing to help her if she needs it.
This is the second time I've seen Raymond acting in a TVB series. I first saw him in that one ATV series (yes I occasionally watch ATV if I hear it's really, really good haha) with Michelle Ye. I think he's a good actor, and it seems that TVB is getting into the habit of making him the "ladies' man" in their series due to his looks. He was the very flirtatious man in the series Marriage of Inconvenience, with Bobby Au and Angela Tong. I like him as an actor, though he can improve. His character in here doesn't serve much of a purpose other than showing how much Chow Chow evolved as a person from beginning to end, but he did well with what he was given.

Bernice Liu as Man Ji Kei (Kit) - Raised by her step-dad after her mother's death, Kit has been spoiled since she was small due to her step-father's guilt at having split up her mom and dad. She hates her step-father at first, but comes to realize how much he actually cares for her. The only person who has ever intimidated Kit is M.C., who would yell at her if she did something wrong, disregarding the fact that she is the boss's daughter. Though she seems bossy and mean outwardly, Kit is a good person inside, and tried to help Chow Chow when she found out that Carson was cheating.
The character of Kit isn't all too exciting, and I don't think Bernice did particularly well with her. She doesn't have that bossy and selfish aura about her that a character like Kit requires. Not that Bernice isn't a good actress, but, I think, this character would be better played by someone else.

Lui Fong as Chow Chi Jim - Raised by a dog breeder, Jim has grown up to be a great animal trainer himself. He and his wife run a store known as Jim Jim Pet which does well enough to open a new and gigantic emporium which provides all the pet services one could wish for (including weddings). Though he has opinions and beliefs of his own, he is generally overshadowed by his wife, who does not allow him any say in their business or in his personal life. Fed up with this, Jim finally lets his voice be heard and gains the respect of his wife and his in-laws.
I think this is the first series I've seen Lui Fong in, at least recently. He did well, though his character annoyed me sometimes with how passive he could be. I liked how he finally decided to think for himself toward the end and stand up to his wife. He was able to do what he wanted by the end, which was to help stray dogs find owners or to neuter them so that there would be fewer stray dogs running around the streets of Hong Kong. Great acting by Lui Fong, and nice character evolution throughout the series.

Margie Tsang as Shui Tin Lan - The wife of Jim and the CEO of Jim Jim Pet, Ah Lan is a dominating woman who is not used to being told what to do. On the contrary, she tells people what to do, whether or not they want to hear it. With good intentions in her heart, Ah Lan has her way of keeping the family together and fulfilling her wish of making her child successful, but her methods come off too strongly for many. Despite running a pet shop, Ah Lan is afraid of stray dogs and big dogs, but she overcomes this with the help of Siu Ba. By the end of the series, her character has changed to a more passive and less overbearing person. She realizes that to maintain her husband's love for her, she does not need to dominate every aspect of his life. She realizes that she must allow him to do what he wants to do and that they, as a couple, must learn to compromise if their relationship is to be successful.
I think the only other series I've seen Margie Tsang in was in D.I.E. as Roger's sister. I actually didn't even realize that it was the same person until very, very late into the series! The two characters were so different that I didn't even connect that they were the same actresses! lol She is a good actress and does the domineering role well. The character of Ah Lan was annoying and irrational at times, but in the end she was able to find the error of her ways. Well done on Margie's part!

Favorite Scenes:
1. When M.C.'s dad finds out that his son has terminal cancer but cannot do anything about it. He wants to fulfill his son's wish for no one to know, but he also wants to play the father's role and be there to support him. The scene where the two are by the water looking out at the buildings at night was a tear jerker. M.C.'s dad's speech to his son was so touching. Seeing him tell his son that if the cancer comes up again he has to call him was very moving, especially since the audience knew that he was already aware of his son's illness.
2. The final scenes between M.C. and Chow Chow. Christmas is my favorite holiday because of the atmosphere that takes over during that time. So I liked seeing that the couple were able to spend one last Christmas together. And did anyone else just love Siu Ba and Cancan in the Santa suits?! They were soooo cute! Especially Siu Ba!
3. The scene with Siu Ba and Bailey, when we found out that Bailey had a brain tumor. That whole speech, though it was dog to dog, was very touching. There is a lot of truth in what was said. If you know you are going to die, you should spend the time happily with those you love. But, that is way easier said than done. How many of us can honestly say that we could live the last few months of our lives happily, when we know there's a set date in which we will die? I, for one, wouldn't be able to, to be honest. It was touching seeing Bailey play with Kit for the last time. I admit, it was out of the blue that she had a brain tumor, but I understand the purpose of it was to mirror M.C.'s situation.
4. The part where M.C. is trying to teach Chow Chow how to be a cat. That was hilarious! When they were on the bed and Chow Chow's dad sees them and mistakes it for something else! lol

The Ending:
I actually really like the ending of this series. I thought it was done tastefully and that TVB did not sugarcoat the ending as much as they generally do. I was worried throughout the last 6 episodes after M.C. discovers that he has terminal cancer because I wasn't sure if TVB would follow through with killing the main character, especially with all the talk about miracles and M.C.'s first advertisement sign lighting up again... and again... and again... Seriously? I thought it wasn't supposed to work, but it kept lighting up at exactly the right moment! haha.. A miracle, I guess? Anyway, the fake death was unnecessary for me. Plus, I was distracted by the fact that M.C. could actually pull off a fake death in today's modern society. I mean, doesn't he need a death certificate and wouldn't his family want to see him for the last time before they buried him? All that aside though, the writers actually killed him, though they softened the blow with him being able to spend Christmas with Chow Chow, Siu Ba, and Cancan. The ending was nice because there was closure, unlike other series where it's left open to interpretation or where there are different endings. So, that's definitely a plus in my book. Plus, the last few scenes with M.C. and Chow Chow together were very sweet. And let's not forget Siu Ba and Cancan's cute scene at the end!

Overall, I enjoyed watching When a Dog Loves a Cat. Besides the long awaited return of Gallen,
the storyline was decent and the actors were all good. As an animal lover, I enjoyed seeing a show concerning the care and love toward animals. The voices of Siu Ba and Cancan (and the other animals) grew on me after a while, though I still stand by my thought that it would have been less kiddy. This series is nice if you want something fun and entertaining. The ending is bitter sweet, but appropriate for how the writers set it up in the story. So for Gallen fans and people who just want a fun series to watch, definitely give this a try.

Overall Rating: 87/100

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Story Spotlight - Best Selling Secrets <同事三分親> Episodes 242-247

*Warning: Spoilers Ahead*


I was catching up on Best Selling Secrets today, and it happened to be on a very good story arc within the series. So, I decided to do a short feature segment on this particular set of episodes because it really stood out to me. I still have a while to go before I finish the series, so there may be more than one of these "Story Spotlight" segments, but essentially, what this segment will be about is a focus on what I think are the best story arcs in Best Selling Secrets. This is a bit unique to long sitcom type series like Best Selling Secrets because there are multiple characters with numerous story arcs. For normal series, this type of analysis is not very rational since normal series are not that long. But these series are hundreds of episodes in length, so it makes more sense to do. Before we start, I have to say, please credit me and this site if you use the summary, analysis, and/or screen caps I have posted here on another website. The work posted here is original unless otherwise stated. Anyway, without further delay, let's get into it!

First and foremost, it was great seeing Louisa So appear in these couple of episodes. It was nice to see that she would be portraying an antagonistic role opposite of the wonderful Esther Kwan. Her role in this set of episodes reminded me a bit of her role in Phoenix Rising with Krystal Tin and Leila Tong. However, in that role, she was more purely evil and conniving than she turned out to be in Best Selling Secrets. Here, there was more of a pitiful back story for her than in Phoenix.

Quick Summary:
We meet her character as the widow of a very wealthy businessman. She approaches "Ying" and "Jo Yi Jim" to prepare a commercial for her. Ah Chit(Vin Choi's character) discovers a picture of his father and Louisa's character in wedding attire, basically their wedding pictures. This sends him into panic mode as he had always thought that his father only loved his mother, Wong Ga Nam (Esther's Character).

After some research and help from Vincent (Geoffrey Wong's character), Ah Chit finds the marriage papers between Louisa and his father. From she tells him, Ah Chit gathers that his father was going to America to break up with Ga Nam, not to bring her back to Hong Kong. Soon, Ga Nam finds the wedding pictures, and develops a psychological problem after hearing what Louisa had to say. She breaks down, something that is not characteristic of Ga Nam at all, and basically loses it for a bit.

Fortunately, she had Vincent there. In order to get the truth from Louisa, he ate a beggar's food. Finally, Louisa reveals the true story behind the pictures. She was once an immigrant with no permanent residency in HK. However, she met Ah Chit's father, Luk Geen, who helped her gain residency by faking their marriage. However, she falls in love with Ah Geen, who tells her that he already has the love of his life waiting for him. Over the years, she married a rich man who was older than her by 30 years and acquired a wealthy company, but she still remembers Ah Geen and how he helped her in her time of need. She blames Ga Nam for Ah Geen's death because he wouldn't have gone on the airplane if not for her. That's why she has been going against Ga Nam this entire time. By the end of the story arc, she has let go of her past grievances and no longer looks for revenge. As an added bonus, Ga Nam realizes how she must treasure those before her, and she FINALLY accepts Vincent's advances toward her.

Thoughts and Analysis:
Well, putting aside my bias toward both Esther and Louisa (they're both wonderful actresses), the story itself was very touching, in my opinion. The only time that Ga Nam shows her vulnerability is when she is dealing with her past with Ah Geen or when she is concerned for Ah Chit. Those are the two men who can cause her to lose her self-control and strong demeanor. One of the most memorable scenes within these episodes is when Louisa's character decides to go into Ga Nam's office and tell her her side of the story. She tells her how Ah Geen only loved her, and that the reason why he went on the plane was to break up with Ga Nam.

Esther breaks down in this scene, and the two essentially have a yelling match; Ga Nam yelling that Ah Geen only loved her, and Louisa yelling that Ah Geen never loved Ga Nam. I don't think Esther has been able to show such intense emotion in the previous 247 episodes. To be honest, her character in Best Selling Secrets is rather boring. I only find it interesting when her past is discussed, because that's when her character shows a lot of depth and Esther is able to use her amazing acting ability. Otherwise, she is calm and confident in what she does, portraying the wise mother of Ah Chit but sacrificing some of the excitement of her character.

Another great scene is when Ng Si Fu (Elaine Kam's character) confronts Louisa in her office. She tells her that she has already forgiven Ga Nam for anything in the past. Although she once hated Ga Nam for inadvertently causing her son's death, she has now forgiven her. Ga nam has also proven herself to be a good mother, a good wife, and a good daughter-in-law. She tells Louisa that the difference between Ga Nam and Louisa's character is how they handle the past. Ga Nam is able to transform her pain about Ah Geen into Love for her family, whereas Louisa can only change her pain into hate. This, along with her promise to Vincent if he ate the beggar's food, was what convinced Louisa to tell the truth about what happened between her and Ah Geen. Another reason I like this scene is because it shows the dynamics between Ga Nam and Ng Si Fu. Their relationship has evolved so much since the the first episode where Ng Si Fu hates Ga Nam until now, when she can go and defend her daughter-in-law out of concern and sincerity.

And of course, the end of this series of episodes marks the beginning of a new relationship. The experience with Louisa has caused Ga Nam to realize that she mustn't dwell too much on the past and that her relationship with someone else does not affect her feelings for her deceased husband. She can still remember Ah Geen in her heart and through her mother-in-law and son, while pursuing a new relationship. I should also add that I have been waiting for this moment for a very, very long time. FINALLY, Vincent and Ga Nam are together! Too bad, Esther had to leave before the end. I wonder how they'll tie up this long awaited relationship since Esther isn't in the finale? I guess we'll have to see!

So, that was the first Story Spotlight segment! It's much easier to do short segments on one story arc than to do a whole long summary and review of the entire series, especially at this length. Anyway, hope you guys enjoyed reading it! It was a lot of fun to do!

P.S. Remember to credit if you use any of the material in this post. Thanks!

Monday, August 18, 2008

New Highlight Segment?

Hi guys! It's been 9 days since I last posted! Well, over the past few days, I've been thinking I should create a new segment so that I can have more frequent updates, rather than just the reviews at the end of each series. I was thinking of doing an episode-by-episode highlights type of segment (possibly called Inferno's Episode-By-Episode Highlights or something like that?).
I know a lot of blogs do episode-by-episode summaries with the blogger's added analysis, and I wanted to try something a bit different with my own little flavor to it. Rather than summarizing all the events in an episode, I was thinking I could pick out a few favorite scenes per episode (I'll probably do a few episodes each post) and analyze/describe why I like them and their relevance to the series as a whole. That way, I could update a little more frequently. Keep in mind I'll still do the series reviews at the end, but this way, I can delve a bit deeper into each series. What do you guys think? Leave a comment or drop a shout in the shout box! =) Your feedback is super important to me!

Best Regards,

P.S. And I'll try to do more screen caps of my own, and rely a little less on Asianfanatics for the new segment, should it work out. haha

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Speech of Silence <甜言蜜語> - Review (Complete)

*Warning Spoilers Ahead*

*Credit to for pictures*

Analysis and Portrayal of Main Characters:
Kenneth Ma as Leung Kai Yin - Abandoned by his father at a young age, Kai Yin (aka OK Zai) is raised by his grandfather and aunt. Though he is given the chance to be the leading man in his grandfather's noodle company, he prefers the less stressful job of a voice actor with his aunt. He meets his Tong Tong in a series of misunderstandings which begin their relationship. It takes a long time for OK to realize his love for Tong Tong, but when he does, he commits himself unquestionably to her, even when she pushes him away.
Kenneth Ma plays this role well, but for some reason, it feels like he's done these types of roles a lot. Come on TVB, give him something new and exciting! Anyway, he did the role well, portraying the caring young man who will do his best to help his family and friends.

Kate Tsui as Tong Tong - Deafened by an explosion during her childhood, Tong Tong has gone through life trying to live as closely to a normal person as possible. With the ability to hear about 30-40% in only one ear, Tong Tong struggles with self-esteem and inferiority issues. However, this changes when she meets OK and is able to live her dream of being a voice actress, despite her hindered ability to hear.
Tong Tong was a kind of boring character for me. Throughout much of the series she was really mellow and not that interesting. When she started to date OK her chara
cter became a bit more interesting, with her showing a wider range of emotions, but then there came the problem of her trying to distance herself from OK because of her disability. It got a bit tiring for me. I don't think it was a problem on Kate's part as an actress, but because of the character. A lot of the time, Tong Tong looked confused and bored. But you can tell Kate has the acting potential in scenes such as the ones in the hospital when OK got shot, and when she pretended to be ok after her surgery failed. So overall, decent acting, but limited character.

Claire Yiu as Yuen Siu Na (Na 姐) - As the independent woman who must look after her mother and son, Na 姐 does not care what other people say about her behind her back. She tries to appease her mother by attempting to date rich men who will "take care" of her and her son, but she does not really like any of them. She eventually falls for OK, but knows that it is impossible because OK only likes Tong Tong, and no one else. In the end, she lets OK be with Tong Tong, even though she had the opportunity to take him with her to America.
I reallly like Claire Yiu as an actress. It's a shame she's not in that many series. Anyway, the character of Na 姐 is an interesting one. She starts off as someone who seems like she has no opinion of her own, only listening to the words of her mother. But, as the story progresses, she begins to realize that she must do what she believes is correct, and not to simply take the words of her mother. For her son, she is willing to sacrifice the chance to be a rich wife. I felt that her betrayal of Tong Tong at the end was really out of character for her, because throughout the series, she was portrayed as a nice person who would do the right thing, and to have her try to steal OK at the end was a bit unreasonable for her character, in my opinion. But I do understand the necessity to use this plot device to show that Tong Tong and OK belong together. Great acting on Claire's part.

Kingdom Yuen as Leung Lai Yu - Leung Lai Yu is the aunt of OK, who has looked after him after her brother's departure. She is the closest family member of OK, a person who he can discuss anything with. Lai Yu is willing to forgive her brother after his betrayal of her and everyone in the company. She even helps him find a job and reconnect with his son.
I think Kingdom does a great job with these more mellow and emotional roles. She is probably known better for her comedic roles in series such as Virtues of Harmony, but she clearly has a wide range of acting ability. I discovered this, with surprise, after seeing Gods of Honour a few years ago. She played Na Ja's (Benny Chan's) mother, Yun Sup Leung, and she played it brilliantly, I think. That was the first series I saw her in in which she really pulled on the audience's heart strings. At the time, I was still a new TVB watcher, so I had not seen her in anything else before but I knew she was more known for comedy than drama. Anyway, good job, but her character in Speech of Silence was also not too interesting.

Lau Dan as Leung Kam Bor - As a gambling addict in the past, Ah Bor tricked his family and friends of their money to pay for debt that he had accrued. When even that could not cover all of his debt, he fled out of Hong Kong with his mistress. In a fight later on, his mistress accidentally kills the debt collector and frames him for the murder, for which he has to spend twenty years in jail. Once he is out, he returns to Hong Kong with the simple hope of being able to see his son happy and healthy. He doesn't wish to even be acknowledged by his family, for he feels shame in having tricked them so many years ago. Eventually, he is reunited and forgiven after numerous attempts at redemption.
What can I say? A veteran actor is a veteran actor. Lau Dan is just one of those TVB actors who is able to nail a character with ease. He plays this role well, showing the weariness after so many years of prison. It's easy to tell from his expressions how much he regrets his actions in the past and how much he would like to gain the approval of his son again. All in all, good job with the role.

Chris Lai as Cheung Yau - The goofy best friend of OK, Cheung Yau believes in sticking up for his "brothers" when the going gets rough. Throughout most of the series, he has a very funny "relationship" with Elaine's character. They were really hilarious together.
I kind of like Chris Lai in the more comedic type roles. I think he does them very well and it's fun to see him in the loud and more obnoxious roles. I laughed at the scene when he was trying to be formal on a date with Ka Yee and was speaking in ancient sayings and stuff. Then he asks her permission to be rough and rips the arms off of his tux. LOL Anyway, I think Chris did wonderfully with this comedic role. Great job!

Elaine Yiu as Chai Ka Yee - Ah.. the ambitious and rambunctious younger sister of Tong Tong. Ka Yee's dream in life is to marry a rich man and not have to worry about life (financially at least). She wants to be one of those rich wives who shop and play mah jong all day long, despite the disapproval of her father and sister. They think that true love is more important than material wealth, but this concept is lost on Ka Yee for most of the series.She evetually comes to the realization that Mr. Right was right in front of her this whole time, but she never took him seriously.
When Elaine came out in her first significant role (in Revolving Doors of Vengeance, I think) I really didn't like her. Her acting wasn't great and her character was annoying. But with more series, I think she has definitely improved in terms of acting. However, is it just me or does she always get the role of the gold digger friend/sister? Wasn't this almost a duplicate of her role in A Journey Called Life as Hannah, Linda's character's best friend? Anyway, it looks like she's being type-casted into these types of roles, which is a shame, because she really has shown a lot of improvement. She did well in this role, but hopefully, TVB will give her a more challenging and refreshing role next time.

Stephan Huynh as Cheung Chun - Ambitious and daring, Cheung Chun returns from abroad ready to take his father's noodle company into the modern era. He makes risky business moves which are radically different from how things were done before, but his success leaves his opponents unable to question him. He isn't afraid to use back-handed tactics to deal with people and even goes as far as try to trick his family of money when his dad is kidnapped and held for ransom. In the end, he reverts and redeems himself after seeing how OK is willing to sacrifice himself to save him.
I think this is Stephan's first major supporting role in a series since his participation in Mr. HK. He didn't win, like his brother, Francois, but he is in many more series than his younger brother. This is probably due to his better grasp of Cantonese, with just a slight accent. Anyway, his acting is very good for such a beginner. His acting does show faults here and there, but for a newcomer in the bad (meaning "evil") role, he held his own. It's very difficult for new actors to play evil roles well. I mean, that's why many newcomers come into the scene as the good and innocent one. But I think Stephan is doing a good job, and is growing as an actor. It would be nice to see him in more series with a significant supporting role (like in this series) but with more complexity and layers. Hopefully, he'll continue to grow as an actor and surprise us with a brilliant performance!

Favorite Sce
1. Definitely at the end when Tong Tong pretends that her surgery went well and creates an elaborate plan with her sister to try to fool OK Zai and Na 姐 so that they can go to America together and not worry about her.
2. The scene when Mary Han, Tong Tong's mom, is begging her daughter to help her son in America. You can tell how conflicted Mary's character was because she clearly wasn't just getting close to Tong Tong to help her son. Even if she was, she grew to really care about her daughter and she was stuck between a rock and a hard place on this one. She felt that she had to trick her daughter because she didn't think Tong Tong would agree otherwise. Yet, she knew if she did lie, she may lose the trust of her daughter forever.
3. When OK
子 finally forgives his dad, after seeing how Tong Tong forgave her mom, despite all of the things that she did wrong. The scene at the stairs when Lau Dan drops the cassette tape and falls while trying to get the tape of him and his son was touching. A bit cliche, but still.
4. In the hospital, after OK was shot by the kidnappers. The words Tong Tong said to him as he was comatose were touching, especially when she had already decided to let him leave to America with Claire.

The Ending:
The ending was rushed, but what's new with TVB? Haha It was a very cliche ending, at least in my opinion. For some reason, it reminded me of that series called... Invisible Journey with Jessica Hseun and Bowie Lam. I don't recall the specifics, but it was about how Jessica was blind and in the end, she had to do a surgery to heal her eyes. Despite the chances, Jessica's character decided to undergo the operation. Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful, but Bowie and Jessica still got together. I believe the ending scene was with them sitting together as the sun rose up. In Speech of Silence, Kate's character of Tong Tong also undergoes surgery, but this time, for her hearing. It is also unsuccessful but she still manages to live a happy life with the person she loves. So, I suppose that's what brought my memory back to Invisible Journey. Anyway, the ending was mediocre for me, not one of TVB's better endings.

Speech of Silence was Kate's first series as the main female lead. Her acting was good (definitely better than in her first few series), but she still has a lot of potential to grow. I'm looking forward to her being in a more interesting role (i.e. in Moonlight Resonance =D), but not bad for her first series as lead. Kenneth was good here as well, though, again, a role which is a bit different would be refreshing. Overall, the series was mediocre, at best. Not one of the worst series, but also not one of the best for me.
Overall Rating: 80/100

Monday, August 4, 2008

When a Dog Loves a Cat <當狗愛上貓> - Initial Reactions

*Credit to MetalAznWarrior for the above picture*

So, I started When a Dog Loves a Cat today, starring Myolie Wu and Gallen Lo, and I thought I'd write down my first impression from this new series.

First and foremost, let's just say I'm glad Gallen came back to TVB and decided to film a series (more to come hopefully?). It's nice to see some of the actors who were present when I first started watching TVB series a while back. In fact, Gallen starred in my first official TVB series called the Seven Sisters, alongside Charmaine Sheh, Kong Wah, Anne Heung, Florence Kwok, Annie Man, and a few other TVB regulars. It wasn't too memorable of a series, but it does hold a special place in my heart as the first TVB series that I ever watched. Anyway, all said, WELCOME BACK GALLEN!

So far, it seems like a pretty cute series. I love animals, especially dogs, so that may be a bit of bias on my part, but what the heck? Haha I think Gallen is funny as the grumpy and irritable neighbor and coworker of Myolie who seems hard on the outside, but is really a caring person within. He is able to portray the fact that there is a reason why he has such a hardened facade. The scene to mention here is when he and Myolie are trying to sell the wedding idea to the rich daughter. Gallen's hesitant recital of the script as he is thinking of his relationship with Tracy Ip is great. You can really see him thinking of his ex, as well as being able to see that the daughter was just using them to lower the price of the other company. Myolie is good here too, and for some reason, I like her hair in this series. Random? Yes.. haha

And was there an inadvertent or deliberate reference to Lee Hom here?! If you didn't know, Wang Lee Hom (王力宏)is my absolute, favorite Taiwanese artist, and my idol. =D So, you can imagine my excitement when they named the dog "Lyhhome." Hahaha Ok, so maybe it's not that flattering having a dog named after you.. but I was just excited they referenced him some way some how in the series! And of course, it may just have been a coincident, but who knows?

Speaking of the dog, one problem I do have with the series so far is the voice acting of the dog (小巴) and the cat (CanCan). It just kind of irks me for some reason. It sounds like it could be used for a children's show. It really does. Other than that, I'm enjoying the show so far. More to come on it later!

P.S. I promise I'll finish the Love Exchange review and start the Speech of Silence review soon! =)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Love Exchange <疑情別戀> - Review (Complete)

***Warning: Spoilers Ahead***
*Credit to for pictures*

Brief Synopsis (credit to Sehseh):
Family, friends and spouse... All relationships are built on trust. Should one day you discovered the closest person to you have betrayed you, how would you handle it? Taking from the female perspective, this series shows their strength and resiliency, bringing out unique toughness amidst gentle exterior.

The female lead was a blissful housewife, leading a happy life. However one day her husband was discovered to be killed in an accident along with a woman whom he is having affair with. Losing her main support and experiencing ridicule from other people, the housewife fell into a low despair. Luckily, she met the male lead. Under his support and encouragement, she rebuilt her life and take responsibility of her family. At this time the female lead found out that their meeting is not a coincidence. The male lead is actually the spouse of the mistress, and the most unexpected thing is that their death is nothing as simple as it appears...

Main Character Analysis and Casts' Portrayal:
Anita Yuen as Zita - This is the first TV series I've seen Anita in and I thought she did a good job. The character of Zita is very family oriented and is willing to sacrifice her own personal and social life for the well being of her family and friends. She is persistent in what she believes in and will stand up for what she believes is right. I thought the character of Zita was pretty funny toward the beginning, in terms of her being a bit of a klutz and not knowing how to handle herself in certain situations. She was a bit annoying throughout the series in that she would always get into other people's business, but that's what also made her likable too. The thing I liked the most about her is her ability to support her family and friends despite all of the problems that existed around her. I especially liked how she continued to make her mother-in-law happy, despite how poorly she was treated. I mean, if someone continually accused me of cheating and plotting to kill her son, I don't think I could handle it, even if that person were a family member. In fact, it's probably worse when it's a family member because they are the ones who are supposed to know you and understand what you are thinking. I really enjoyed the scene when she finally couldn't take it anymore after she came home from trying to sell insurance and had to jump out of the car. She yelled at her mother-in-law about having to take care of the whole family. Another great character scene for Zita was when her mother-in-law got mad and hid on the roof of the house. Zita tells Lap Tin (Michael Miu) that whether or not her mother-in-law thought of her as a daughter is unimportant because she thinks of her as a biological mother because she has no family in Hong Kong. Again, that just shows how much effort she places into keeping the only family she has in tact. Overall, I thought Anita Yuen did an excellent job with the character. Probably not the most interesting character of the four main casts but still good.

Michael Miu as Yip Lap Tin - Lap Tin is the head of a body guard agency who is trying to solve the mystery behind his wife's (Angela Tong as Bonnie) mysterious suicide with supposed lover Dick (played by Eddie Kwan), who also happens to be Zita's husband. He stands firmly by the thought that his wife is innocent of the charge of infidelity and suicide and sets out the prove this, going as far as to disguise himself as a stuttering friend from Dick's childhood to obtain further information from Zita. Throughout the series, Lap Tin is continuously looking for loopholes in the story behind how Dick and Bonnie were supposedly forbidden lovers who committed suicide. After a series of wild geese chase, he unravels the mystery of the two's mysterious deaths. I thought that Michael did a great job with Lap Tin, especially the scenes of frustration with being unable to solve the crime. His persistence in the face of all the contrary evidence really goes a long way to reveal how loyal his character was to Bonnie. A great scene for his development was when Zita hosed him down for being such a baby about the news regarding his wife. He finally is able to put down the past. Of course, further evidence draws him and Zita back into it, but Zita's tough love policy was really good in evolving Lap Tin's character.

Power Chan as Anson - Ambitious and willing to do anything to obtain his goals, Anson is the head of the insurance company that Zita and Jackie (Krystal Tin) work for. On the outside, he is happily married to Sophie (Tracy Ip), but he is actually having an extramarital affair with Jackie. It seems like his marriage to Sophie was more for the benefits he would gain by being the son-in-law of Tung Yan War (Lau Kong). He wanted the power and prestige that would follow from being the heir of the wealthy businessman. I like Power Chan as an actor, in general, but particularly in the more light-hearted and funny roles. I thought he portrayed the character well here, though. I was even sometimes on the border about whether he really liked Sophie more, or whether he liked Jackie more. Just the way he manipulated both parties, especially toward the end, made me want to strangle him. One disappointing thing about Anson was that the writers made it very apparent (at least to me) that he was the bad guy from the beginning of the series. The first few episodes foreshadowed his eventual evilness too well. Yes, it's true that in the middle a bunch of extraneous facts were put in to try to through you off the scent, but, nevertheless, it was still not surprising at the end when Anson was behind it all (well in a way he was played to but we'll get back to that). It should have been a bit more surprising in my opinion, because the whole premise of this series is a mystery, so by convention, the end should have been a nice, unexpected twister.

Krystal Tin as Jackie - Brought up in a poor environment and raised by a negligent mother, Jackie has grown up to become a very independent woman. She takes the position that women should not depend on others and that they can go out into the world and succeed just as well as any man can. However, under this strong demeanor, Jackie is vulnerable and afraid inside. She has an overwhelming urge for someone who will love her, someone who will compensate for all the love that she did NOT receive from her mother during her childhood. She commits herself wholeheartedly to a man (first Dick, then Anson), and finds it hard to let him go because of the insecurity she feels emotionally. It is revealed that she is actually the mastermind behind everything, even the deaths of Dick and Bonnie. She was essentially the puppet master who pulled the strings behind the scenes. At one point she even states that she could make either Dick or Anson do what she wanted to if they got on her wrong side. I really love Krystal Tin. I've only seen her in a few series because she's relatively new to TVB (previously she came from ATV). I think since Phoenix Rising, where she costarred alongside Louisa So and Leila Tong, I have thought that Krystal was a great actress. She does the emotional scenes very, very well and is able to make the audience feel sorry for her and pity her, despite any evil her character has done. That's a good indicator for me whether an actor or actress is good. Playing an evil role is difficult in itself, but being able to play an evil role that can get me to pity the character, that shows good acting, in my opinion, and I think Krystal was able to do it here.

Favorite Scenes:
1. As mentioned before, the scene where Zita and Lap Tin are on the roof of the house looking for Zita's mother-in-law and her whole speech about how she loved her like a biological mother. A bit cheesy, yes, but good character development.
2. The scene when Zita sprays Lap Tin for letting himself become so useless because of complications in the case about Bonnie and Dick.
3. This one is a bit more funny. When Mando Cho's character takes all the time to make a steak for Lap Tin, and he goes and feeds it to the dog. Her reaction when she found out that what she spent so much time and effort on for Lap Tin was going into the belly of a dog. Haha..
4. When Jackie confronts Sophie after she is slapped. She tells Sophie that, even though she's Anson's wife, she can't beat her. I see this as a turning point for Jackie's character, as she realizes she doesn't have to be third party, and that she has the power to make or break this relationship.
5. The scene when Zita confronts and slaps Jackie after discovering that she was with Dick as the third party before she knew Zita, and that Jackie has kept this from her the entire time. This was one of the scenes Krystal did excellently in. You could see her desperation to keep Zita as a friend because, by this point, her mother had died and Anson had left her.
6. Finally, the scene in the hospital when Anson holds Zita and Jackie hostage. The exchange of words between Anson and Jackie was very touching especially when Jackie decides to sacrifice herself so that Anson would stop his craziness. I'm not so big on the him slitting his throat part, but the emotional "love exchange" in this scene was well done.

The Ending:
Ok, I'm one of the people that does not need a happy ending in every single series. In fact, I'm often angry with TVB endings for being so sugar-coated and over the top with trying to make everyone happy. But in this case, I thought it would have been nice to know that Zita and Lap Tin got together in the end. You would think with everything they went through, they would at least get to be together in the end. Aside from that, I thought the ending was rushed in that the characters' endings weren't all satisfactorily explained (to me). They kinda brushed over what would become of Jackie, and kind of showed the happy family with Zita's mother-in-law, father-in-law, and brother-in-law, but not really. Overall, the series was entertaining, with a good choice of actors and a decent script.

Final Rating: 83/100