Archive for performance

Review for TVB drama ‘The Unholy Alliance’ (2017)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2017 by vincentloy

Hmm…I was disappointed. That’s my feeling right after watching the final episode of ‘The Unholy Alliance’ (同盟) just now. It is an action crime-thriller television drama of 28 episodes produced by TVB that revolves on a modern Hong Kong crime family, led by the matriarch Ling Hung. She reunites with his son, Ko Tzi Kit who is sent to Taiwan to avoid any danger linked to the business empire her family is owning. That leads to many dangerous events and Ling Hung’s desire to leave the crime world. This drama is a follow-up production after the successful ‘A Fist Within Four Walls’ drama last year and brings back most of the cast and production crew members.

Why am I disappointed as mentioned earlier? The series started with a ‘bang’! Things are so intense and heart-stopping in every episodes. Yes, every episodes. There are suspenseful and chilling scenes in every episode. The story is fast-paced, the action sequences are awesome, the cast is doing great job (will talk more about it later), and every ending part of each episode had me yearning for more every day. This is a sign of an exciting series.

But then, as its last few episodes near, I sense downfall. The story just went downhill after Elena Kong is revealed to be the ultimate villain. I’m not saying her character is bad but every plots that are surfacing after her character is shown in the drama are terrible. Elena Kong is actually nailing this cool villain role and its definitely not her fault. It’s the storyline after her character appears that is so poorly written and messy. Those very awesome tricks in earlier episodes pulled of by Ling Hung (Nina Paw) are what made this drama intense. However, over usage of them in the last few episodes and with each covering very short span of the drama delivers no intensity. If you watched the drama, you will know what I mean. Short-lived plot twists….

Before the release of the final episode, everyone is guessing that Anthony (portrayed by Jazz Lam) is the ultimate big boss behind Kam Tien (Elena Kong). Even I am guessing the same too ever since the scene when he whispered something very evil to his brother, Ricky (Pierre Ngo) at the airport in earlier episode. There may be something evil behind this quiet kid. Yes, he is doing something wicked in the end but his character is immediately wiped out as he is not the main focus (the ultimate big boss). That role is revealed to be a group of four unknown wealthy men. This definitely puts me off. The last few episodes are messing the whole series up. It is this TVB’s recent pattern when they usually couldn’t finish a good series nicely.

How about the cast? Nina Paw did a good job taking on the role of Ling Hung. This is the first time I’m seeing her on television drama as she only works in film industry and has been crowned Film Queen before (won Best Actress in Hong Kong Film Awards). A great veteran actress. However, I find that her way of presenting her dialogue has been very rigid and being too similar (voice control and facial expression). The other two leads, Ruco Chan and Nancy Wu won both best actor and actress last year for their wonderful performances in ‘A Fist Within Four Walls’. Can their winning continues to this year with their role in this sister production? Definitely no. They have no challenging roles here and their characters are too ordinary. Ruco’s sudden transition from a very naive innocent guy to an immoral and manipulative man (not considered evil but still cunning) in the last few episodes (you will notice even his clothing style changes) is too unbelievable. Many people are praising Mr Yik (portrayed by Jimmy Au) but I personally felt he is just fine. A tough guy with cool stunts delivered….nothing more. On the other hand, I have to say Joel Chan and Elaine Yiu did well. I’m supporting them for the best supporting actor and actress awards end of this year for their roles here. They are doing great. Joel is a very talented actor and his character is very likable (I thought his character would turn evil in the end, but he is a nice guy all the way to the end). Elaine nailed her role too which is very demanding as it requires a lot of emotional scenes as her character is stuck between her family (who are plotting to kill Ling Hung) and Ling Hung’s family.

So…the series is very impressive on its first three quarters. It then goes downhill to a poor, rushed and unnatural script and disappointing conclusion. It would be much better if the production team placed more effort and thinking into the script for the plot’s ending and extends the drama to a little over 30 episodes. The drama should be fine (or even much better) with few more episodes. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The Unholy Alliance’ a total of 7.8. If it does well on its ending part, I could have easily given this drama over 8. By the way, there are too much sexual innuendos going on between Ruco and Nancy. I knew this pairing is very much hyped now, but in real life, they are just friends. The producers made a bad decision to put in a lot of awkward sexual-related scenes for them in this drama. It felt distasteful and very unnecessary.

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

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TVB drama review for ‘A General, A Scholar And An Eunuch’ (2017)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2017 by vincentloy

‘A General, A Scholar And An Eunuch’ (超時空男臣) is a science-fiction comedy drama by Hong Kong’s TVB. Based on the theme of time traveling, it tells the story of three imperial officials from Ming dynasty who accidentally traveled to modern day China while searching for a missing princess. The 32-episode drama starred Edwin Siu, Raymond Cho, Matthew Ho, Grace Wong, Kristal Tin, Rebecca Zhu, David Chiang, James Ng, Tsui Wing, etc.

The series has just aired its final episode few hours ago. Finally, another TVB drama completely watched for this year. This is an interesting drama. A story about time travel. What could go wrong? The series started with many good laughs as the three officials have to adapt to the modern world. I can remember the first few episodes were seriously very funny. As the story progresses to more serious business involving Kristal’s restaurant, I am still engaged. However, I find that this drama is a bit draggy after episode 20. It loses appeal at that point but come back nicely in the last few episodes. The flow and the story would be much better if it is cut short to 28 episodes.

I noticed there are quite a number of illogical points or strange plotholes throughout the story especially when it nears its end. Well, I can ignore them since this drama is never about being logic in the first place. It was a fun premise, then added with some quick romance and challenges in businesses the modern-day characters have to encounter. I have to admit that the conclusion (final episode) was sad and appears more like an open ending. But after a second thought, I actually like this ending. It will be at least more memorable and stays away from typical happy-ending drama from TVB. Well, at least, Edwin finally admits in his heart that he do love Kristal.

Everyone in the cast did a good job in this drama. Kristal Tin has a lot of series coming up this year and I’m sure she was tired working on all of them. It must be stressful for her. However, she still managed to deliver to her role here as the anchor of the story. I’m still rooting for her to win Best Actress this year so far, not from this drama, but from ‘Destination Nowhere’ drama released earlier this year. I seldom see Edwin being good in taking on main lead role, but hey, he is actually not bad in here. His consistent posture and expression (to reflect his Ming dynasty period when he is a general) show how much he dedicated to this role. Grace Wong on the other hand is well known to be able to elevate her expression in her acting and still people don’t get disturbed by it. Due to this ability, she shined in all her recent roles including her award-winning role last year in ‘A Fist Within Four Walls.’

I do have fun watching this drama. A great and a hilarious beginning, a steady story development but a bit draggy in the middle, and an unusually sad yet memorable ending. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘A General, A Scholar And An Eunuch’ a total of 7.5. I’m guessing the four of them (including the princess portrayed by Grace) have no choice but to return to Ming dynasty to avoid rewriting the history that will affect its future (the present).

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

29th SEA Games Kuala Lumpur 2017 opens with surprisingly good opening ceremony!

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2017 by vincentloy

The 29th South East Asian (SEA) Games Kuala Lumpur 2017 has officially opened with a magnificent opening ceremony held just now in Bukit Jalil National Stadium. I am not in Malaysia but I am glad to be able to watch the ceremony live just now from YouTube. It began on 8.17pm (20:17 time for this year of 2017). I didn’t have high expectation of the ceremony, as you know, it is Malaysia. I remembered that our opening ceremony for 1998 Commonwealth Games was nothing exciting and I don’t even remember a single moment from the ceremony in 2001 when we last hosted this SEA Games.

Then, I am left surprised. The opening ceremony just now was actually good. Not to the point that it was incredible or out of this world, but it is still a great show. We of course cannot compare this to Olympic-level ceremonies. This is considered breathtaking at SEA Games level. The ceremony is short (just two hours) and I’m fine with it. The official speeches were short (good too). The first half of the ceremony is dedicated for all the official procedures like flags parade, athletes parade, and oaths taking. Then, came the second part that I’m looking forward to which is the performance segment.

I’m surprised that the role of the creative director is given to a Chinese this time. Cool. That’s a wise decision. I’m not intending to be racist here but giving major role to a Chinese in Malaysia is a very seldom occasion. Give us a chance and we will deliver. And he (forgot his name) delivered. I’m amazed by his ability to combine the traditional shows with contemporary elements for the performances. It’s hard to do that and he accomplished it. I can still experience the unique diversity of Malaysia (and ASEAN overall) through traditional dances and outfits, but at the same time, listening to vibrant modern music and seeing high-tech colourful lighting and projection all around. The choreography and synchronisation aren’t at the best but the effort is there. The presentation appeared to be like a mess for a time but overall, the energy was there.

Before watching the show, I have fear that the ceremony will be overwhelmed with very traditional dances and songs. I’m now certainly in relief. The songs during the performance are also great and complements to the energetic atmosphere of the almost fully-packed stadium. As for the stadium, I love the newly refurbished stadium. It looks awesome with the new skin cladding and modern LED lights. A major disappointment of the ceremony would be the cauldron. It’s just a huge chunk of cylinder mimicking ‘oil lamp’ (the broadcaster said so). That part is supposed to be intense and exciting. The end result is not. Lack of effort on this crucial part of the ceremony. And I don’t even know the last torch bearer. Apology but who is she? The last torch bearer is supposed to be someone who is the most excellent in world sports. By the way, where is our beloved Datuk Lee Chong Wei? He is not appearing at all in this ceremony. He is the best choice for that spot.

Last but not least, the concluding fireworks is awesome although I wish for more. Generally, the ceremony is great and is a good effort but it lacks ‘wow’ moment. There literally isn’t any ‘wow’ moment in the show. All the ‘suspended in the air’ show in the ceremony fall short of excitement too. The idea of having LED lights installed at the side of audiences’ seats reminds me of the same situation for London 2012 ceremonies. Well, I’m fine for this idea to be reused again to make the show better. Now, the games begin and we will see if Malaysia could reach its target by winning over 111 golds and topping the medal tally. The games will end with a closing ceremony on 30th August 2017, which is coincidentally the eve of the country’s 60th anniversary of independence celebration.

(Images in this post are from The Star Online and YouTube screenshots)

Bad day lighten up with a great movie!

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2017 by vincentloy

Today is the day for my final presentation for my design studio this semester. After days of insufficient sleep and constantly glued to my laptop working for this assessment, the judgement time finally arrives. However, things turned out to be bad this morning when I get quite harsh criticisms from the lecturers. I’m open to feedback but they should have said it out to me on my design during the tutorial sessions earlier. And then, here they came stabbing not only on my design, but also on almost everyone’s else. I’m shocked to see them complimenting on somebody’s works that are obviously lacking in quality and quantity and then criticizing heavily on people who produced serious amount of works. They even asked us ‘what went wrong?’. My answer deep down in my heart would be ‘You guys are the ones who went wrong!’.

I’m hoping my lecturers won’t be seeing this. It’s just me voicing out my frustration of the day. I’m quite confident of my level of works (I put in more time and effort on it than I put on my previous two design studios) and I didn’t see what’s happening today coming to me. It’s literally 80% negative comments and only 20% of consolation words. I knew they are trying to force us to improve further and face the harsh reality, but that is something that I’m not ready to face after putting so much effort and passion on it. They will never understand. I’m also surprised to see them not agreeing and again harshly criticizing on most of the other people’s works too, some of which are very well done from my point of view.

Let’s not talk about them anymore. It’s over. Arrghh…it’s not. This final studio presentation this time is not actually the ‘final’ as we have the portfolio submission that requires immense amount of new stuff from us and covers a huge percentage of our grading of the unit for the semester. This studio is really giving me all sort of pressure and literally headache. We are supposed to have this studio end by now and not prolonged with more works to be done. This is so unlike the last two design studios. Our lecturers are making life so much more unnecessarily difficult for us.

The only positive thing to cheer me up today after the studio’s presentation is the ‘Wonder Woman’ movie. Finally, it’s the time for me to get some much needed break and went for a new movie. There are so many cool movies out now but ‘Wonder Woman’ is my top priority. And I didn’t choose wrongly. It’s such an amazing movie that not only strikes with lots of actions but also strikes right to the heart. Gal Gadot is impressive and spectacular as the titular character. I don’t think there is anyone else that could portray this superhero better than her. She is not only here for the attacks to save the day, but also here to carry the whole movie with passionate acting and engaging performance. And not to mention that she is incredibly pretty and hot too. I’m melted. Chris Pine is also great in portraying as her lover, Steve Trevor.

I think this is the first time that DC movie is doing it right. The previous DC superhero movies are just average and not as good as Marvel ones but this ‘Wonder Woman’ came out as an exception to my delight. The plot is nice and easy to grasp, the chemistry and romance between the two lead cast is amazing, the actions are awesome, the visual effects are cool, the score are intense and dramatic, the emotions are there, the messages are there. There is also one unexpected major plot twist regarding the revelation of the main villain in this movie. I did not see that coming. And that is great. What more do you want? There are even some nice hilarious scenes put in to create a lighter tone which is an approach not very much attempted in DC movies’ style that prioritizes dark and serious mood. It’s a good addition to the movie to keep everyone entertained from beginning till the end. I literally have not a single bad words for this movie. Well done to DC! Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Wonder Woman’ a total of 8.2. It is very engaging and thrilling! I love it. This is one cool awesome movie.

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

Return of Gallen Lo in ‘Provocateur’ (2017).

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2017 by vincentloy

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)

Second week done with plenty of gatherings and a TVB drama review for ‘Destination Nowhere’ (2017)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2017 by vincentloy

First week of the semester is considered a happy-go-lucky week as no one would like to start on the assignments on the first week itself. Now, even the second week is gone and there is no more time to be wasted anymore. There are several submissions coming very soon already and I’m way not prepared yet. I did do my work, but 24 hours a day is just not enough. I’m not on track in my progress in all the units this semester. Well, I took that off my mind for a while first to enjoy this weekend.

Last Friday, I get back to the court to play badminton with my friends for about 3 hours. That was after a very stressful design studio with nothing from my part to show to the lecturers and I don’t really get what they want with their super-hard-to-understand words. It’s good to be back playing badminton after several months of not playing it already, and unfortunately, my badminton skill has not improve. The gathering did not stop there as we went for some snack and drink after that. Then, yesterday evening, we had another gathering in a friend’s house to enjoy the potluck dinner as well as to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Several hours later, I will heading out with my housemate to watch a movie. So many activities, and hence, not much time to focus on my assignments. Well, I will promise to myself to concentrate on my study from tomorrow onward.

Recently, I finished watching another TVB drama. It’s ‘Destination Nowhere’ (迷), a Hong Kong drama about a female news reporter who get caught up in the problematic collusion scheme between government official and businesses. All the hardship she faced has lead to her to be forced to become cunning and evil especially after the murder of her daughter. Those complicated cases that were actually linked to one another were then investigated by a police inspector who later felt in love with the female news reporter. This 30-episodes series starred Kevin Cheng, Kristal Tin, James Ng, King Kong Lee, Winki Lai, etc.

The plot is very interesting but there are several obvious plot holes that ruin the logic of the story in some major parts. The main cast, Kevin Cheng and Kristal Tin only get to bump onto each other in the very later stage of the series. I’m fascinated by the director’s decision to show them crossing over but not knowing each other in many occasions in earlier episodes but that were taking too many episodes. Once they knew each other, their relationship builds up too quickly. It’s a fresh thing to see this new pairing between Kevin and Kristal by the way. Their acting in this drama were also top notch especially Kristal. I’m stunned yet by another groundbreaking performance by Kristal. Her character is a very challenging one that requires execution of variety of emotions. She has a role that has to show the innocent side, leadership side, crying side, and cunning side all in one drama. She nailed it. There were time when I was sleepy and not paying attention while watching new episode of this drama on late night, and then, I immediately paid attention and went fully awake by her performance. I don’t mind giving her another best actress award but it is too early to tell right now since awards season is at the end of the year. This drama is being shown too early in the year and will be usually forgotten by the time awards season come. Other cast also did good job such as James Ng (still don’t like his face and his crying is too ugly to watch) and Winki Lai. Even the bad guy portraying ‘Wat Dee’ is putting on a very good performance. I don’t know his name but I pity him for always portraying bad guy in TVB dramas. He has the bad-guy look.

Overall, this drama is nice to watch. It is all good due to the amazing performances by the cast. Their acting kept me not wanting to leave my seat watching every episodes of this drama. There is also a good amount of suspense and dramatic moments throughout the whole series to keep engaging the viewers. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Destination Nowhere’ a total of 7.5.

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

TVB Drama review: Recipes to Live By (2017)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2017 by vincentloy

‘Recipes to Live By’ (味想天開) is a 2017 historical comedy drama from Hong Kong by TVB with food as the theme. Having 25 episodes, the story centers on Ding Yat-san, a poor village boy who is a foodie and has a ‘golden tongue’ (can identify all ingredients in a tasted food) and later discovered that he is the son of the God of Cookery. He then investigates the past accusation against his father that got him killed. The drama starred Tony Hung, Sisley Choi, Rebecca Zhu, Hugo Wong, Ram Chiang, Mary Hon, Stephanie Ho, Toby Leung, Maria Cordero, etc.

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It has been such a long time since TVB last produced a series with food as the theme. Hence, this one got me interested eventhough I’m not that satisfied with the cast. With food as the theme, I’m expecting to see a lot of nice dishes, tricks and cooking competitions throughout the series. Yes, I do see them in this drama but they are not exciting as hoped. The story then swifts to many other directions to cover other smaller plots. That is necessary to keep the series going with more things to catch up. However, the excessive use of plot twists especially near the end of the series which are supposed to make the drama more exciting to watch turned out to be quite anti-climatic. They also forcefully put in too many unnecessarily tragic, ‘misunderstanding’ and ‘curse effect’ storyline to the characters in this drama. I’m annoyed when they are too many. Anyway, overall, the drama still has a decent storyline that goes back to the food theme.

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As for the cast and their performances, my expectation is right. Tony Hung is not a good actor and giving him the first male lead role here is a bad decision. There is still much for him to learn in acting. I think he did his best but there is something not right to his expression. Similar issue goes to the first female lead that goes to Sisley Choi. However, I find that she has at least improved. Anyway, I just don’t like her for being too thin and tiny, and having a sharp voice. Just not the right person for a leading lady role. Rebecca Zhu and Hugo Wong are both great in their supporting roles (or I shall say second leading roles). I hardly notice Hugo in the past but after seeing this and also in ‘Burning Hands’ where he is also involved, I think he is one underrated actor. Other veteran cast are great and I wish to highlight on Lee Kwok-lun who portrayed the main villain here. He is one excellent actor and is especially good in taking on bad roles. TVB should honours him with at least a professionalism or a supporting actor award soon.

This drama is worth to watch when you have nothing else to do. It is not a great series but still good enough with some comedic, touching and suspenseful moments. The only problem is the leading cast (Tony and Sisley). Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Recipes to Live By’ a total of 7.0.

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