Gallen Lo is a famous veteran actor who has starred in many critically successful TVB dramas particularly in 1990s and 2000s. In recent years, he took extensive long break and didn’t shoot any dramas. His last TVB series is 2009’s ‘Born Rich’ (I didn’t watch that). However, I do remember well and admired some of his past iconic and powerful roles in dramas like ‘Golden Faith’, ‘Feminine Masculinity’, ‘Secret of the Heart’, ‘Old Time Buddy’ and ‘At The Threshold Of An Era I & II’. He has won best actor in TVB Anniversary Awards for three times, becoming the actor with most best actor wins in TVB (a record tied with Roger Kwok and Wayne Lai). He is also the first recipient of best actor award in 1997 when TVB started introducing their awards presentation that year.
Now, he returns for a new TVB drama called ‘Provocateur’. I’m watching this drama because he is in it. He portrayed a cosmetic business mogul who encounters various difficulties such as his business challenges, his long lost son who came back to take revenge on him, his declining health, etc. This 25-episodes drama also starred Fred Cheng, Ali Lee, Jacqueline Wong, Jonathan Cheung, Lee Shin Cheung, Raymond Cho, etc. I think this is Fred Cheng’s first leading role in a drama.
I have high expectation from Gallen. He did well on his part but I think his role isn’t anything special. There is not much ways for him to showcase his acting or express his talent. In most of the time, he was just walking around, having his hand on his head while thinking on some business strategies and chatting with the others. I knew sometimes acting is from the very subtle yet powerful facial expression. Gallen did has those moments in this drama but those scenes are too much and it lessen the essence and strength of the outcome. Even the part when he had terminal illness, he also couldn’t perform to the point that it moves me. I also noticed that he is getting really old looking now. Well, he is 55 already. But I do enjoy his involvement in this drama as a senior and his collaboration with many young cast.
I have heard that Fred Cheng actually didn’t get this leading role at the first place. It was supposed to be someone else but due to schedule conflict, the other actor dropped this role and Fred came in. He is not bad in acting but I think he is incapable of taking this important leading role, plus he has to face Gallen most of the time throughout the whole series. He is much better in supporting role. His expressions especially in scenes when he has to show his revengeful face are awkward and appeared ‘forced’. He just can’t balance it and went overboard. His character in this drama is being helped by a group of his friends specialized in pulling off tricks. This reminded me of ‘Burning Hands’ which is released not long ago before this series. In ‘Burning Hands’, we saw Ruco Chan being helped by a group of his friends too. Such a similar idea in both dramas. Fred’s chemistry with his on-screen partner in this drama, Ali Lee is very low too.
Ali Lee has a big year in 2016. She has starred in a lot of dramas last year and she won Most Improved Female Artiste Award in TVB Anniversary Awards 2016. She is good. But his acting in this drama is just very average and a bit wooden at some point. It felt like she is uninterested on this role. On the other hand, Jacqueline Wong who is also a newbie actress contributed a lot of her passion into her role as Gallen’s daughter. Let’s give her more roles. At first, I didn’t have any expectation from her, but after watching this drama and seeing how she develops together with her character, I’m engaged. I have no issue seeing her nominated for Most Improved Female Artist award end of this year.
I’m glad that this drama only has 25 episodes. Not any longer. The plot fits best in this 25 episodes. While I particularly didn’t enjoy some decisions in the storyline, the overall drama is still solid. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Provocateur’ a total of 6.8. It’s a series that will be easily forgotten after a month or two. A ‘cheaper’ version of ‘Burning Hands’ and a plain comeback role from Gallen Lo.
(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)