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

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