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

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