Archive for performance

‘Heart and Greed’ is a lot less stellar than its last two predecessors.

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2018 by vincentloy

‘Heart and Greed’ is the third installment in the ‘Heart of Greed’ Hong Kong drama franchise. The first ‘Heart of Greed’ was released way back in 2007 with critical acclaim and the drama went on to win the most accolades at TVB Anniversary Awards that particular year. The drama has also lead to popularization of ‘golden words’ derived from some intense script in it. I enjoyed the drama a lot, particularly on the theme of inheritance-fighting, the emotional impact especially touching on the warmth of the family, and the superb performances by all the cast. It is a classic. Looking on its success, TVB decided to make a sequel entitled ‘Moonlight Resonance’ the next year (2008). Similar hype and success came in as well as the drama also become the highest rated TVB series of all time with its final episode hitting 50 points.

So about ten years later (now), TVB decided to make yet another sequel (with the same 40-episodes span). It’s called ‘Heart and Greed’. I was very excited because of how great the first two dramas turned out in the past. I also very much enjoyed drama with the theme of family and fighting for inheritance with all sort of tactics and schemes. However, I noticed that this latest drama is no longer relating to ‘inheritance’ kind of story but rather about man who would sacrifice everything to help his friend’s dying business.  This drama brought back old cast (Ha Yu, Louise Lee, Michelle Yim, Susanna Kwan, Louis Yuen, Bosco Wong, etc) and mix it up with new people (Vincent Wong, Eliza Sam, Sharon Chan, Michael Tong, Priscilla Wong, etc).

After I saw the change of cast (disappointed for not seeing Linda Chung, Tavia Yeung, Raymond Lam, Moses Chan, Fala Chen, Chris Lai anymore in here) and the change of plot’s theme, I lowered my expectation even before I started watching the drama. And yup…I am right. The drama is no where near the quality to be called a ‘classic’ like its first two predecessors. The drama lacks the intensity and the dramas that we observed in almost every single episodes for its first two series. Besides than the boring storylines of ‘Kyle falling in love with Belle’, the plain development of ‘old Mr Wong persistently helping his old friend, Alan who had once saved him’ part, the out-of-arch segment of ‘daughter of the family making immoral advance to a married man’ and lastly the illogical and rushed plot when the ‘uncle suddenly turned bad in the end’, there is nothing much going on to make this drama a memorable one.

The veteran cast is doing well in leading the whole show. Or is it? It looks to me that Michelle Yim’s role is now so small and yet she is nominated for best leading actress in the coming TVB Anniversary Awards. She is a great actress, and yet given such unimportant character this time, which is in total contrast to her award-winning performance as Yan Hung in ‘Moonlight Resonance’. On the other hand, I find that Louise Lee had been pushing too hard to act in this drama with frequent shouting kind of tone when speaking. Her age must be weakening her performance. Susanna Kwan is good though and I am impressed with her ability to memorize long script for her part. Eliza Sam is still not doing enough to carry her role while Vincent Wong is as his usual good form. Michael Tong returns with his first drama here after many years and he is doing well. Now I wonder why he and Jacqueline Ch’ng (who portrayed as Adam’s wife) are not being nominated in supporting categories for the coming TVB Anniversary Awards. They are good in their roles here. The drama lacks a few more major characters (the main family group now lacks so many people when compared to its first two dramas) to further escalate things up, to create more tensions and climax for the story.

Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Heart and Greed’ a total of 7.4 only. I would have easily rated ‘Heart of Greed’ and ‘Moonlight Resonance’ above 8 and even nears to 9 respectively. But for this third installment, it is just not that good. It is still a solid drama with some (much lesser) warm and touching family scenes, some fun (but less exciting) conflicts in business and relationship issues. The songs in this drama are nice to listen to by the way while I can see also a lot of effort and budget has been placed on the setting (house interior) and the costumes too. The producers have been forcing themselves to create another sequel to this franchise and it turned out not working that well to my earlier projection.

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

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Movie review for ‘Coco’ (2017). It’s certainly 2017’s best animated film.

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2018 by vincentloy

I was quite excited when the screener copy for ‘Coco’ is out recently but I do recommend that the movie to be watched in cinema for its rich visual. It is my most anticipated animated movie of the year. Even before its release, many has already predicted it to be the frontrunner this year to win the Oscar. Well, they were absolutely right.

‘Coco’ is an animated film that follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel Rivera who is accidentally transported to the land of the dead, where he seeks the help of his deceased musician great-great-grandfather to return him to his family among the living. The concept of the film is based on the Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead. It was produced by Pixar and released by Disney.

Pixar never disappoints on creating animated movies that made people cry. Well, I have not gone to that stage yet but I do felt moved by the storyline of ‘Coco’. The revelation scene and the ending are particularly emotional. The movie has plenty of humorous scenes and emotional moments. I am amazed that the studio delivered both of these elements in such a great way. This light-hearted and fun movie also taught us on the matters of life and death, importance of family, and the vibrant Mexican culture. Besides than all that, ‘Coco’ is also filled with beautiful songs and exciting adventure that will please both the kids and the adults.

The other major compliment to the movie is definitely on its visual. The rich palette of colours topped with detailed scene designs especially of the places in the ‘Land of the Dead’ in the movie are amazing. On the other hand, the vocal performances are great too. Vocal performances are usually not being emphasized in animated films as the involved actors or actresses are not visibly seen in the movie but rather represented simply through voices of the animated characters but this movie shined in that aspect too. The fully dimensional characters also help out a lot. Out of the songs presented in the movie, ‘Remember Me’ with the multiple versions it had, stood out. Simple lyrics but with beautiful and touching melody that enhances the emotional value of ‘Coco’.

‘Coco’ is certainly the best animated movie of 2017 and also one of the best animated movies of all time in my personal opinion. It has everything, and delivered everything to the perfection. The movie is beautiful, highly entertaining, deeply affecting and I have an awesome time watching it yesterday. Pixar has been using similar formulas to churn out good and touching animated films and they are still the best at it. There is also a nice plot twist near the end (but I’m already expecting that one earlier).

Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Coco’ a total of 8.6. That grade means that ‘Coco’ is also my best reviewed film of 2017. Well, it translates similarly to the 97% rating that it has now from Rotten Tomatoes, 8.8 out of 10 from IMDB and 81% score from Metacritic. Since I find that there are no other 2017 animated films that even try to compete for the best this year, ‘Coco’ is hands down the frontrunner and the most deserving pick to win best animated feature at the upcoming Oscars and other major film awards too. It is an instant classic.

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

2017 films that I have watched and list of 10 highest grossing films for the year.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2017 by vincentloy

2017 is coming to an end soon. This is the time for me to have a post that compiles a list of films released in 2017 that I have watched. This has been a tradition of my blog here for several years by now.

Hollywood films in 2017 that I have watched:

(The asterisks indicate my personal rating for each movies. 5 is the maximum. The ones in bold are my top 10 selection)

  1. Eloise. ***
  2. Rings. **
  3. Logan. ***
  4. Kong: Skull Island. ***
  5. The Space Between Us. ***
  6. Beauty and the Beast. ****
  7. Life. ***
  8. The Boss Baby. ****
  9. The Fate of the Furious. ****
  10. The Bigfoot Project. *
  11. Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume II. ***
  12. Alien: Covenant. ***
  13. Wonder Woman. *****
  14. The Mummy. ***
  15. Power Rangers. ***
  16. Split. ***
  17. Get Out. ****
  18. Despicable Me 3. ***
  19. Baby Driver. ***
  20. Dunkirk. ***
  21. Spider-man: Homecoming. ***
  22. 47 Meters Down. ***
  23. War for the Planet of the Apes. *****
  24. It Comes At Night. *
  25. Annabelle: Creation. ***
  26. It. ****
  27. Transformers: The Last Knight. ***
  28. Leatherface. **
  29. Cult of Chucky. *
  30. Zombies. *
  31. Open Water 3: Cage Dive. ***
  32. The Emoji Movie. ***
  33. Happy Death Day. *****
  34. Jeepers Creepers 3. **
  35. Thor: Ragnarok. ***
  36. Victoria And Abdul. ***
  37. Justice League. ****
  38. Geostorm. ****
  39. Serpent. **
  40. American Assassin. ***
  41. Kingsman: The Golden Circle. ****
  42. The Foreigner. ***
  43. Stronger. ***
  44. Mother! **
  45. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. ****
  46. Birth Of The Dragon. *
  47. Beyond Skyline. ***
  48. The Son Of Bigfoot. ***
  49. Battle Of The Sexes. ****
  50. Call Me By Your Name. ****
  51. Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle. ****
  52. Unhinged. *
  53. Lady Bird. ****
  54. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. ***
  55. I, Tonya. ****
  56. The Disaster Artist. ***
  57. Coco. *****
  58. Breathe. ****
  59. The Shape of Water. ****
  60. Jigsaw. ****
  61. Tulip Fever. ***
  62. Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets. ****
  63. Darkest Hour. ***

Malaysian Film in 2017 that I have watched:

(The asterisks indicate my personal rating for the movie. 5 is the maximum.)

  1. KL24: Zombies. *

Thailand Film in 2017 that I have watched:

(The asterisks indicate my personal rating for the movie. 5 is the maximum.)

  1. Bad Genius. ****

Chinese (Hong Kong/China/Taiwan) Films in 2017 that I have watched:

(The asterisks indicate my personal rating for each movies. 5 is the maximum. The ones in bold are my top 1 selection)

  1. Kung Fu Yoga. *****
  2. Love Contractually. ***
  3. Cook Up A Storm. ****

The list above is to be updated accordingly as I’m still on track to watch some new 2017 films soon. Looking at the current progress, I have been watching much lesser films this year compared to last year (2016). So far up until 11th January 2018, I have only watched 68 films. The reasons for that are that I have been spending more time on my study this year (especially on my thesis work) and there are not much films this year that appeal to me. You would have also noticed that I have been writing much lesser movie reviews this year (maybe I’m tired of it already).

December 2017 to February 2018 would be the period of time that I’m going to catch up on more 2017 films just to wrap it up on time before the Academy Awards to be held on March 2018. I have a lot of Oscar-bait movies to catch up later too and I’m looking forward to that. Hence, the total number of 2017 films that I have watched is expected to rise in the coming days/months but it would still be below the amount achieved for 2016 films for sure.

So now, here’s the list of top 10 highest grossing 2017 films as of 11th January 2018:

  1. Beauty and the Beast. US$ 1.263 billion.
  2. The Fate of the Furious. US$ 1.235 billion.
  3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi. US$ 1.222 billion.
  4. Despicable Me 3. US$ 1.033 billion.
  5. Spider-Man: Homecoming. US$ 880 million.
  6. Wolf Warrior 2. US$ 870 million.
  7. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. US$ 863 million.
  8. Thor: Ragnarok. US$ 850 million.
  9. Wonder Woman. US$ 821 million.
  10. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. US$ 794 million.

Four films this year successfully joined the 1-billion dollar club. ‘Beauty and the Beast’, the live-action remake of the 1991 animated film of the same name topped the chart this year and also becomes the 10th highest grossing movie of all time. ‘The Fate of the Furious’, the eight installment of the franchise comes close by taking the 11th spot in the all-time chart. Despicable Me 3 is the highest grossing animated movie this year and it shows that the popularity towards the little minions has not dies down yet. The same cannot be said for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise as its latest film is not getting great box office result like its predecessors which shows that the interest to this franchise is going downhill now.

Out of the 10 films above, I have watched all but ‘Wolf Warrior 2’ and ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’. The former is a Chinese film and is the only non-Hollywood film that is listed on the all-time worldwide top 100 box office. And as for the latter, I’m not a Star Wars fans…enough said. But this latest entry to the Star Wars franchise is going to end up taking the top spot for the year with expected final grossing of around US$ 1.5 billion. The famous ‘It’ movie became the highest grossing horror film in history (unadjusted for inflation) and is a huge box office success with a grossing that nears US$ 700 million. It is now the 11th highest grossing film of the year.

(Post originally written on 21st December 2017 and has been updated on 11th January 2018)

Review for TVB drama ‘The Exorcist’s Meter’ (2017).

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2017 by vincentloy

Time for review to another TVB drama that I have watched completely after it aired its final episode just now in the weekend. ‘The Exorcist’s Meter’ which has 21 episodes in total, starred Kenneth Ma as a taxi driver who has accidentally awaken a kind-hearted spirit with power and duty to take down devils roaming on Earth. The drama also starred Mandy Wong, Hubert Wu, Hugo Wong, Moon Lau, Anthony Ho, Susan Tse, Ram Chiang, etc.

I didn’t have high expectation to this series before I started to watch it. To be honest, I decided to watch it because I have nothing else to watch at the moment. In the end, I was surprised by how good this drama turned out. It is not a lousy or ordinary paranormal-themed series. It’s not just about people seeing ghosts and catching demons in a heroic fashion. This series stood out over the rest in this particular genre due to the addition of some very moving storylines, heartfelt characters, and excellent performances by the cast.

First of all, the eyes of the series is on the lead actor; Kenneth Ma. After his success and popularity from his role in 2012’s ‘The Hippocratic Crush’, he didn’t have many good roles later on. This paves way for newer actors like Ruco Chan to speed ahead of him in the race to win best actor. Another newer actor, Vincent Wong is also on the rise very quickly with many fantastic roles in recent years. I’m starting to worry that Kenneth will be left out very soon if he didn’t have a good drama and a good role to take on. Finally, he is back to be noticed again with his role here as ‘Ma Kwai’ in ‘The Exorcist’s Meter’. His acting is very natural and this character gave him opportunity to showcase his acting skill through the many emotional scenes in this series. He nailed this taxi driver’s role perfectly. With his excellent performance here (and also another great work in ‘My Dearly Sinful Mind’ released early this year), I’m supporting him to win best actor at the Hong Kong’s TVB Anniversary Awards.

The other cast members were doing exceptionally well too, although they are mostly lesser-known TVB artists. Susan Tse is very convincing as Kenneth’s foster mother and I don’t mind her winning Best Supporting Actress again. Ram Chiang, Moon Lau and Hugo Wong are outstanding too. I think this drama really puts their acting to the limelight besides Kenneth. This drama also propels Hugo Wong to higher popularity from his very challenging villain role in this drama. He usually took very minor roles in the past and after this drama, I’m sure that he will be given more opportunities to take on bigger roles soon. He is also solid in ‘Recipes to Live By’ released early this year and hence, I have no doubt to support him for ‘Most Improved TVB Actor’ this year.

As mentioned earlier, this drama has a very good script. The loop scenes involving Kenneth’s dead parents, conflict and relationship between Kenneth and his foster mother, friendship between Kenneth and the stone spirit, Ber Ber (Moon Lau)’s relationship with Kenneth and her death, Anthony Ho’s tragic death, etc are all very sincere and moving. Even the action scenes involving demons in this drama are produced with effort as not to make them too typical, lousy or emotionless. Besides that, the two theme songs for this drama sang by Hubert Wu are also nice to listen too and they suit well to this drama. Well, there are still some areas in this drama that can be improved like the production designs, the CGI, some exaggerated acting (but still acceptable due to the nature of this story), etc. But overall, it is a highly enjoyable, fast-paced series that will also makes you cry several times. The ending for this series is also surprisingly good. The last scene is a great one when the stone spirit that sat in the taxi was actually Hou Zai (Kenneth’s younger brother’s soul). This is one solid, entertaining and touching drama that is not to be missed. It defies my expectation. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The Exorcist’s Meter’ a total of 8.0. This is the one and only drama in the year 2017 that gets over 8 points from me.

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

TVB celebrates its golden jubilee with its grand anniversary gala.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2017 by vincentloy

TVB, the largest television station in Hong Kong celebrates its 50th anniversary recently in a grand fashion. Its dramas have been accompanying me for over 20 years. Despite the criticisms of having poor dramas in recent years, facing lack of talents and with many good artists leaving the station, it is undeniable that the station is the home that have trained many superstars we saw today. It is undeniable that the station is the home for all the classic series that we remembered till this day. It is undeniable that the station has had impacted lives of over millions of Chinese not only in Hong Kong or China but also throughout the world where there is Chinese people.

Since it is TVB’s grand golden jubilee, I would not want to miss the chance to watch its 50th Anniversary Gala last evening. The scale of the show is noticeably upgraded but there is still more that can be done. Since it is their golden jubilee, they should have some sort of fireworks display too to celebrate this significant occasion. The show should have been extended to 3 hours rather than the typical 2-hours time to allow for more performances. Celebrities who attended the show are Liza Wang, Eric Tsang, Carol Cheng, Nat Chan, Simon Yam, Ray Lui, Wayne Lai, Kristal Tin, Nancy Wu, Ruco Chan, Kenneth Ma, Vincent Wong, Benjamin Yuen, Wong Cho Lam, Ding Dang, Pakho Chau, Nancy Sit, Michelle Yim, Susanna Kwan, etc. Besides than Simon Yam and Ray Lui, I was actually expecting more heavyweight stars (formerly TVB artists) to attend the show.

It is also very obvious that the front segment of the show is heavily inspired by the movie ‘La La Land’ with the similar musical score. The performances by the 50 male artists and the 50 female artists are too ordinary and boring. They could have done much more (something challenging?). It is also very obvious that the singing by the artists are pre-recorded (I can see clearly the lip-sync by almost everyone). The ones not doing that are the three singers performing at the last section of the show and hence, you will noticeably hear poor live singing. And what are the three singers (from various countries) doing here? I thought they would be singing classic TVB theme songs. Totally irrelevant for that part. While I admire the ‘Hidden Heroes’ segment that honors all the less-known frequent faces in the past dramas, the way it is executed by ‘Fuk Luk Sau’ team (Wong Cho Lam, Louis Yuen, Johnson Lee) is awkward.

Besides that, too much time has also been wasted for excessive advertisement and segments showing the prizes that will be handed out for the evening (the 2-hour show is already not enough!). The one great section of the show that I enjoyed is the ‘recruit’ sketch by Eric Tsang, Kristal Tin, Wayne Lai, etc. The scene with Kenneth Ma and Bob Lam is particularly hilarious. The scene with FAMA who tries to imitate Carol Cheng and Eric Tsang is also funny to watch. This year’s gala show is certainly much better than last year but I was still slightly disappointed that the organizer didn’t want to further elevate it up. And when is this year’s TVB Anniversary Awards going to be held? Until now, there has been no news or date announced for the awards. There is speculation that the awards will be pushed to January next year. Does that mean from now on, the TVB Anniversary Awards will be held on January every year or this schedule only occurs for this year? This will mess up the standard annual schedule.

I’m particularly excited for this year’s best actor and actress race (forget about most favourite male and female characters’ categories). Out of sudden, Kenneth Ma is rising to be a top contender for this year’s awards due to his strong performance in the currently airing ‘The Exorcist’s Meter’. Before that, Vincent Wong is at the top of the pack in terms of the chance on winning the best actor since he has won at the Singapore’s Starhub TVB Awards and is rumored to win the same at TVB Star Awards Malaysia to be held this week. I’m picking Kenneth as he has been much longer in the industry that Vincent and he is really good in ‘The Exorcist’s Meter’ to my surprise. I find that it is a bit too early to hand in best actor to Vincent Wong. For best actress, I’m rooting for Kristal ever since I saw her performance in ‘Destination Nowhere’ early this year. There is no other strong contenders but I have a feeling that Kristal may not win in the end. What do you think of the gala show and the best actor and actress race this year?

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

Drama review for ‘Line Walker: The Prelude’ (2017)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2017 by vincentloy

Before going with the drama review, I would like to take this opportunity to wish to all my Indian friends Happy Deepavali! This day reminds me of some warm and delightful Deepavali open houses that I have attended in the past, some very cool ‘kolam’ (artistic creation by using rice flour) that I have seen at malls, and some Bollywood films with excessive dancing or over-the-top scenes. Living in a multiracial country like Malaysia allows me to be exposed to variety of cultures and I’m loving it. Happy Deepavali once again!

Okay, now back to the review. ‘Line Walker: The Prelude’ is a Hong Kong drama that revolves on the effort of a police inspector on finding and working with his undercover agents in solving a large criminal case. It acts as a prequel to the successful 2014’s Line Walker that won Best Drama in that year’s TVB Anniversary Awards. Many of the original cast (Charmaine Sheh, Raymond Lam, Sammy Shum, etc) didn’t return but you can still catch a glimpse of their photographs in the final episode that tries to link back to the story in 2014’s series. Benz Hui and Michael Miu are back to lead this drama along with new cast (Priscilla Wong, Benjamin Yuen, Pakho Chau, Moses Chan, Jessica Hsuan, etc).  This new line-up of cast looks promising too.

Although this drama couldn’t live up to the intensity and the fast-paced flow of its predecessor, it is still an enjoyable drama to watch with decent story and performances. Moses Chan who portrayed the main villain in this drama is unconvincing. In 99% of his scenes, he only sat on a chair and gave out his speech (that’s so plain). He literally don’t need to do much for this drama. I couldn’t really see or feel his ‘bad’ or ‘powerful’ side in him except from his very quick and cool shooting scene in the very last episode. But that too is illogical. He can shoot around 10 person in a split second and not giving the others a chance to return fire in one scene (it shows how fast his skill is), and then get shot by Benz Hui’s character easily after that.

The ending is good but it could be better. The drama should just end with the scene of Kenneth Ma loading a gun and mentioning that he will be taking revenge on behalf of his brother (Moses Chan). He looks great as a villain and I really hope to see him in the next one since the ending gave a big hint that the series will continue again before the event in the first ‘Line Walker’ series. And then there was this scene of Benz Hui and Pakho Chau in Thailand. How can Pakho suddenly came back and didn’t die from severe gunshots in earlier episode? I prefer his character to die and it will give more sense and meaning to the ending. He just left Hong Kong and stay with Benz in Thailand. For me, it was a very irresponsible act especially to Benjamin Yuen, Priscilla Wong and Michael Miu. On the other hand, I think Pakho is still not comfortable in filming drama (he has acted in many films previously but never in drama before). I can feel that his performance in here is a bit unnatural and restrained. Priscilla Wong and Benjamin Yuen are good but they are still not ending up together (what a pity since Benjamin did a lot for Priscilla but she just couldn’t sense it) even after Pakho’s ‘departure’. Recent Miss Hong Kong winner, Louisa Mak has been criticized for her performance in ‘Bet Hur’ but she is actually doing quite well in here especially in her last crying scene before her death.

Generally, this drama is a good effort to continue this franchise that has also expanded on the film side (there’s a ‘Line Walker’ film last year that starred Louis Koo, Charmaine Sheh, Nick Cheung, Francis Ng and Benz Hui). I also like the ending theme song for the drama. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Line Walker: The Prelude’ a total of 7.7. It couldn’t go past 8 because it still lacks the intensity as seen in the first ‘Line Walker’ drama. I remember there are a lot of explosive or climatic scenes in the first drama but not much in this one. The first drama also sparked a lot of debates and discussions especially on questioning who is the real UC during its run. No for this one. Okay, enough writing for this review; now I have to go back to focus on my thesis work.

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

 

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)