TVB drama review: A Fist Within Four Walls (2016)


‘A Fist Within Four Walls’ ( 城寨英雄 ) is a Hong Kong martial arts action television drama by TVB that has recently concluded airing with 28 episodes in total. The story of the series mainly takes place in Kowloon walled city during the early 1960s, when the city was ruled by Hong Kong triads. It revolves on two Bajiquan masters who formed an alliance together to protect the walled city from falling into the hands of ruthless gangs with other intertwining side stories. The series starred Ruco Chan, Nancy Wu, Benjamin Yuen, Philip Ng, Grace Wong, Moon Lau, Yuen Qiu, etc.

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This series aired after the ending of ‘House of Spirits’, a series that has received critical acclaim. ‘A Fist Within Four Walls’ continued with that momentum with highly positive reception as well and I understood why is that so. ‘A Fist Within Four Walls’ is a highly engaging series with great storyline and characters’ development, awesome fight sequences, impressive acting by the cast, wonderful setting, and intense plot suspense and twists. It is now also one of the highest rated TVB dramas of the year.

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Well, it isn’t going all perfect throughout the whole series. I find some fight scenes delivered in slow motion are exaggerated, unnecessary and distracting. I also find the series less appealing after the death of the three triad leaders before the final few episodes. The revelation of the ‘big boss’ isn’t made intense enough and by the time this part arrived, I only wanted this series to finish. The death of many characters in the last few episodes stands by TVB cliche again to get rid of excessive people and to make it tear-jerking.

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Back to the positive side of the drama. As I mentioned earlier, the plot is intense and engaging with suspense present in almost every episodes, making the audiences wanted so badly to watch the next one. The martial arts segment is also delivered very well. Ruco Chan and Nancy Wu who are the main leads in this drama delivered outstanding performances. They both stand a strong chance to win Best Actor and Actress respectively at the end of this year. Nancy Wu’s work here is even better than her performance in ‘Ghost of Relativity’ last year that won her Best Actress at TVB Anniversary Award. Supporting cast also shined, particularly Grace Wong. She handled all her scenes exceptionally well to my surprise. She even nailed those tough emotional scenes that I think only very experienced actor/actress can do. KK Cheung and Carlo Ng also surprised me with their fantastic portrayal as the triad leaders. On the other hand, Philip Ng couldn’t really act in this drama while his frequent co-star, Moon Lau managed to save their scenes with natural performance. Ruco and Nancy’s pairing has a very a good chemistry and the same goes to Benjamin and Grace as a couple.

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Overall, this series is a good one with only the last two to three episodes being a little letdown for me. It started off nice, and then proceeded strongly, but ended with a little disappointment in my personal opinion. The climax just fell down in the last few episodes as I had stressed on quite a few times in my review here earlier. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘A Fist Within Four Walls’ a total of 8.0. Most of that points actually comes from the cast performances and the three triad leaders’ segment. The happy ending is also somehow predictable, but deep down in my heart, I actually wanted this series to conclude in the opposite direction (sad ending) so as to make it more memorable and touching.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

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