VERY IMPORTANT NOTICE

A must read, if you don't already know ...








Written by Funn Lim


"'She's my grand daughter, you were never there for her, now you leave her alone, whatever you're doing now is too late!'. EXCUSE MOI! Did I hear that right?"




SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!





Note
I noticed at the time of posting of this review in my website (02.10.2003), there aren't any review of this series in the net. I wonder why ...

Genre
Drama and ghosts set in 1960s (I think) or maybe early 1970s in Hong Kong.

Cantonese Title
The same as the English title, literally "Chat Hou Chai Goon" which means Police Station No. 7. Ingeniously simple title if you ask me which has nothing to do with the plot.

Episodes
Apparently 30 but I didn't count.

Released
2002

Cast- Character
Lawrence Ng - Wong Gim
Maggie Cheung Hor Yee
Wong Lam - Man Wah
Raymond Cho Weng Nin - Yip Jo Kwong
Nancy Sit - Wong Ying Ku
Lau Dan
Law Lan
Choi Chi Kin
Johnny Tang Siu Juen
Angela Tong Ying Ying
Eddie Cheung - Yip Ka Sing
Lui Yuen Yan

Summary
A woman framed for her murder by her own beloved useless nephew was sentenced to death and returns as a restless spirit enlisting the help of the boy she once babysat to find her beloved lost daughter and give her justice

Plot
For convenience sake, I shall use the name of the actors instead.

About a decade ago Nancy Sit was framed for murder for a crime that was committed by her asthmatic nephew Eddie (out of jealousy he chopped his girlfriend and her lover to death) and was subsequently sentenced to death. She had a young daughter, a sickly husband and a mother in law afflicted with rheumatism. All that she had to leave behind. But her spirit did not go away and lived in her own braided pony tail in a plastic bag stored in Police Station No. 7's evidence room.

About a decade later, the evidence room was believed to be haunted and was now manned by a down and out police officer, Lawrence, an idealistic cop who did not believe in taking bribes, which was the trend back in the 60s to 70s before the formation of ICAC. Lawrence himself part timed as a comic strip writer and one day he discover his stories of corruption in the society became a bestseller. The story was entitled scapegoat and that story was drawn by some unseen person whom Lawrence later discover was the braided pony tail herself. It took him a while to realise the story was about his beloved nanny, Wong Ying Ku and as he discovered the true nature of her death, he vowed to give her justice and find her daughter, now a 17 year old Wong Lam. He tried various ways to make her appear in person and when Nancy disappeared as she got lost, he was sick with worry as he treated Nancy as if she was his own mother.

At the same time Lawrence's cousin moved into his house, and this cousin of his, Maggie was a very timid woman often bullied by her own father and mistreated by her step mother. As she slowly found her voice and her courage to speak up, she began to fall for Lawrence and vice versa.

At the meantime, Lawrence was desperate to be assigned to detective work and in sheer determination, he convinced Lau Dan, the head of another department one floor up (or one floor down, didn't quite catch that), he successfully transferred out of Eddie's department. He knew Eddie was the one who framed Nancy and vowed to take him down. Eddie at the mean time became a very successful and corrupted head of his department and superstitiously believed in his never ending luck, which he claimed cure him of his asthma attacks. He was married with a teenaged son, Cho Weng Nin who came back from Germany a disgraced man (he impregnated a German girl).

In Lau Dan's department, Lawrence began to achieve success and commendation for his intelligence and bravery. He was admired by his boss but shunned by his fellow teammates when he refused to take the "Happy money" or in other words, monthly bribe. Lau Dan stood by his decision and Lawrence began to rise up in ranks.

But trouble brew when he found Wong Lam and Wong Lam grew into a spoilt little girl, pampered by her grandmother. She was also seduced by the false charm of Cho Weng Nin and defied her mother's advice and fell for Cho. Nancy was heart broken when Wong Lam repeated screamed and cried for Nancy to leave her alone, since she was a ghost and had no right to interfere with the living. But Nancy refused to give up. Because of her teenage rebellious streak, Wong Lam full of love tattooed on her upper thigh a symbol of her love for Cho. But when one night Cho tried to rape her and she was rescued by Nancy, she finally realised her mother was right and she became an obedient girl.

Some years passed and Lawrence married Maggie whilst Nancy lived with her daughter and mother in law, unable to reincarnate because justice was not done (yet). By now Lawrence was highly ranked Inspector and Lau Dan was near retirement. The closeness Lawrence once had with his fellow teammates before he refused the bribe became professionally closer but emotionally detached. But Lawrence was happy where he was and he had the love of his beloved wife, Maggie, still as timid as ever.

However things took a tragic and dramatic turn when Wong Lam's best friend, Tong Ying Ying returned to borrow money and confessed she was pregnant with Cho's child. Wong Lam was exasperated by her friend's stupidity but nevertheless helped her. When one day Cho took some abortion medicine to Tong Ying Ying and even cooked it for her and she refused to drink, things turned ugly. But the occupants in that crowded flat saw only Wong Lam scolding her friend over some guy but by then Wong Lam had already left. Because of their argument, the stove was accidentally pushed over and a fire ensued. Cho did not even tried to help the unconscious Tong Ying Ying but ran out of the flat pursued by the occupants, and locking them inside whilst he fled the scene. Many people were burned to death, including Tong and Wong Lam suspected it was Cho. But Eddie in an attempt to protect his useless son again found a scapegoat in Wong Lam and accused her as the person who started the fire, out of sheer jealousy that Cho loved Tong. Evidence were fabricated, Tong was arrested ad then released, arrested and then released again and again until one day Wong couldn't stand it anymore and just confessed. Then she was bailed.

Lawrence tried all he could to help but against an establishment full of corrupted cops, he was defenseless. But he believed in justice and searched for evidence to prove Wong's innocence and Cho's guilt. At the meantime, Wong became so unhappy and tired of all the framing and accusations, decided to jump from a building but stopped in time by Nancy. Persevere she said. And so she did. But then she was arrested and charged for murder. At the meantime, Maggie was pressured by Lau Dan to accept the happy money and Maggie kept it with a view to return them all at once to Lawrence one day for his decision to do whatever he wants. Lawrence didn't know this as he was busy with Wong's case.

After all the accusations and Eddie smugly confident of his son's escape from certain death sentence, suddenly there was an unexpected turn of events.

Ending Revealed
SPOILERS ALERT! SPOILERS ALERT!

Cho suddenly had a conscience and confessed to everything. This was because his old girlfriend from Germany and his 4 year old son whom he had never met visited him in prison and he realised after all the misdeeds he had done, he would like to die a good man, and his only worry was he could never see his son again. he requested for Nancy to visit him and Nancy advised him to die a good man and reincarnate as a good guy in his next life. And Nancy walked with him and stayed with him throughout his whole ordeal. Cho's mother killed herself because the man she loved, and that was not Eddie presumably died or jilted her, in her suicide note she confessed she had never felt loved by Eddie and so she sought the love of another man and that was true love. As for Eddie, he was suddenly diagnosed with cancer and he died suddenly but full of fear of the unknown since he did so many bad things. Lawrence found out about the bribe and Maggie tearfully begged for a divorce. But he refused. Later when ICAC was set up, Lau Dan ran to Taiwan and retired there whilst Maggie gave birth, imprisoned on charges of bribery and released a few years later. Wong Lam completed her education, got a job in the civil service and dated her boss. Law Lan was healthy as ever. As for Nancy, don't know where she went, presumably she reincarnated.

Why, Why Tell Me Why!!
Spoilers alert (again)

How come Tong Ying Ying's ghost never return to do some serious haunting damage on Cho and family?
Got cut off in the editing room? Too scary? Could be category III for violence and gore? I do not know and I want to know why also because that would have been so much fun to watch some serious haunting business instead of pitiful ghosts.

What about those burn to death? Why they never return?
I do not know. I guess the writer forgot about them or that only Nancy could return as a ghost because she is the lead actress and because she is popular.

So what happened to Nancy at the end? Reincarnated? Still there?
As in the true tradition of all TVB series nowadays, they don't just offer cliff hangers, they offer hangers that doesn't make sense at all. Of course this is a ghost story and so nothing makes sense and that would make perfect sense, like this sentence of mine. But really what happened to Nancy at the end? At least in Seven Sisters, we saw Anne Heung drifting away to the sky, at least some closure. This is not exactly the movie Three you know, like artistic stuff, so as someone watching something not very intellectually stimulating, I would hope for all the livers, hearts and the 'usus' to be drawn you know but no way, TVB says let's confuse them, give them an ending without an ending and a closure. So really I do not know.

Why Maggie had to go to jail?
If you are scratching your head on this one, read Ending Revealed. Basically she received bribe (though she was pressured to do it) and so in (again) the true tradition of all TVB series and the HK legal system, whether you repent, confess, did not deliberately do it, whatever, YOU MUST GO TO JAIL to pay for a crime you didn't even know you would be imprisoned for. This is different from Cho's situation, he did do what he did. You may say no Mens Rea but when he locked those people inside the building, he knew what he did would kill them. So he's guilty of murder and so deserved his end.

Erm, Funn, why this story is so tragic-ish?
We have a ghost, dead from the beginning. I guess to help the sale of tissue papers. Either for tears of sorrow or vomit, depends on which way you see it.

Comments
By the time you reach this paragraph, I am sure you must know what's my feelings about this series. If not I will make it very clear.

My God, what a long winded series. It goes on, and on, and on and on and round and round and round and round. It's like Twilight Zone you know, stuck perpetually going round and round a roundabout and the same stinking roundabout with no end and then suddenly you wake up from this nightmare and you don't even know where you've been to or where you're going, just that you wasted so many good sleeping hours dreaming about that darn roundabout and how you circle it repeatedly. This is how I feel about this series and if the first episode is any indication of what to come, those more intelligent than I would know where this series ie heading; tear-dom.

This series and its sole purpose is to make you cry. Like "How can Wong Ying Ku die like that!" or "Bastard, that Eddie Cheung, bastard!". Which is why we have the excellent Eddie Cheung in a role oh so familiar by now and Nancy Sit, one actress everybody liked whom I think could enroll herself in acting classes.

This series reminds me of those 60s movies, those series with big soundtrack and dramatic moments of loud sounds or complete silence. Those where the acting is always talking straight to the camera but eyes looking elsewhere, preparing to cry but yet didn't cry. Nancy Sit's acting is the embodiment of the 60s acting, complete with big movements, dramatic expressions and opera-ish delivery of her lines. Her acting is at best amateurish and that really is very painful to watch. That doesn't mean she is not likeable. Her Wong Ying Ku is way too nice for a person and too gentle natured for a ghost. Sometimes I can't stand her but there are many more I can't stand.

Most Ridiculous Scene(s)
Take for example what everybody did when poor Wong Lam got arrested. Always Lawrence said "Don't worry, I'll make sure she's ok" and that was after poor Wong Lam was tortured, beaten and even pissed in her own pants. All Lawrence knew what to do then was cough (he was sick) and then give reassuring words which were not very reassuring. Everybody else seems preoccupied with being worried without doing much and the only person, or thing doing something was Wong Ying Ku, who as a ghost can't even rest. I mean she's dead and yet she's doing so much of human stuff you know, like rescuing her daughter, figuring out to save her and all. I was wondering humans are so useless and this ghost doesn't even have special powers except for her love for her daughter.

And then take Wong Lam for instance. I mean the character. When she first met her mom again, she was happy to see her, even if she's dead. And then her true colours is revealed when she felt Nancy was interfering too much into her life. Like Law Lan, her catch word was "You're dead mother, leave me alone" and she even lied so that Law Lan would use dirty tricks to chase Nancy out. Law Lan even said "She's my grand daughter, you were never there for her, now you leave her alone, whatever you're doing now is too late!".

EXCUSE MOI! Did I hear that right? I mean there I was shocked. Gim who usually is the voice of reason didn't defend poor Nancy and Nancy stood there crying. I didn't know things could get stupid and this was stupidly unreasonable. Why you may ask was that scene stupid? Let me present to you the evidence.

Exhibit 1
Eh! Wong Ying Ku was framed and then she was hanged. It's not like she asked for it and so leaving her daughter at such a young age to defend herself is not exactly within her control. It's not like she ran away with someone else and returned years later to reclaim the love of her daughter. SHE WAS HANGED. SHE WAS FRAMED AND HANGED. And there these people going "You have no right to interfere".

Exhibit 2
Why don't Nancy just reincarnate in the first place? Eddie was still there, smug as ever. The daughter knows that because she met Cho, Eddie's son. She knew family enemy no. 1 is still very much alive, and so Nancy can't just reincarnate because her death was one of the greatest injustice perpetrated ever. And it was not like she didn't want to reincarnate.

Exhibit 3
Nancy is her mom, Law Lan the grandmother and we have the grandmother talking as if she was the mom and Nancy the Aunt. I mean for God's sake, she is the mother. She may be dead but she has every right. And you know what's funny? The daughter used to be such a nice girl and now turn into this horrible person. It was quite a character assasination for me. And everytime she said "Mom, you're dead! You have no right to interfere with my business!" with that smug look of hers and I felt like slapping her. Nancy didn't and she should have because dead or alive, I am still your mum you no good lying horrible ungrateful daughter.

All the time I was scratching my head.

The Top Most Ridiculous Scene
Talking about injustice, this would be far worst than what was done to Wong Ying Ku. No, not that framing of Wong Lam episodes BUT poor Maggie, going to jail whilst Lau Dan escaped to Taiwan and enjoying his happy money. And our Gim even visited him and was talking to him like father and son. This series has got its "I hate you" priorities all wrong. Wong Lam should love her mom BUT Gim should hate Lau Dan for pushing the money to his wife, thus setting a trap for his wife, though unintended but still he knowingly did that. Poor Maggie.

The Good Scenes
I like watching Wong Ying Ku running around because Nancy Sit reminds me of a very round ball. She's very cute to look at, and I mean far shot but any real acting or close shot, it would be best I stop commenting on her acting and save the best for last.

I like the scene where Maggie was home alone and boom, a wild girl was what you will see. She began singing, acting, cooking. Aren't we all like that? With our family, especially me I am sulky, demure, gentle, all of this at the same time. And when I am alone, FREEDOM! I could run around naked in the house and never bother about criticism. I can cook whatever I want, pretend I am in Burning Flame II rolling on the grass with Tong Ming. I find those scenes very real and very funny to watch. It could have been me.

The ending, the final ending where the roundabout thing stops and I could go on with my life watching other series.

The Worst Scenes
I can't stand the story about the framing of Wong Lam. Must it be dragged on so long? Why use the same trick twice? I already had enough of that hair drawing the Scapegoat comics and the whole thing already like so slow-mo and then we have the same thing again with Wong Lam. It's such a waste of time and frankly I don't even like Wong Lam the actress.

And then there's Johnny Tang's character whom I didn't mention above in the Plot. He was Lawrence's best friend and whilst investigating Wong Lam's case, he was very worried. Because he was caught sleeping with an under-aged girl and Eddie took some photos and so in turn he burn some hard to get evidence. And there he was screaming about his poor unfortunate situation. Again humans are selfish. So what he was caught sleeping with the girl? He was framed, he could explain that. But he didn't. In the end he was knocked down by a car (thanks to Eddie) and the one good scene was before he died, he grabbed everybody screaming his badge no. and who had tried to killed him. It's dying declaration and can be used in court as evidence. That was probably the only intelligent scene of this series.

And the worst, the worst had to be Maggie's character. Nothing wrong with the acting but is there such a TIMID person alive, ever? Can't even speak up for the bus to stop! That got on my nerves and I felt like slapping her for being so stupid. Yes, stupid. Again, stupid. Finally, stupid.

Most Pitiful & Best Scene
There was this Chinese sinseh who kept saying Wong Lam came to his shop and purchased some abortion formula. That wasn't the truth, the truth was Cho same with Tong to see him and at their request, gave them the prescription. And so Nancy came up to see this sinseh and told him, advised him to tell the truth if not he will suffer the might of Heaven when he's dead. Then this old man confessed why he framed Wong. He had many children but many of them died tragically of young age. He was left with his only grandson, but this child was sick with heart disease. He needed money for the surgery and the old man was so desperate, he took Eddie's offer and framed Wong, though he disagreed. And why would he need punishment from the Heaven when all his life, he was a famous doctor, saving countless of lives and yet his children died tragically. His only grandson in what was a routine surgery died during the surgery. And the old man was crying, "I don't need punishment, I am already punished". It was a very sad scene and yes, it justifies the use of some tissue paper. It fact that was a very well acted scene by that poor old man and good old Nancy Sit was left speechless and crying. What more can you make this poor soul do when he was being punished in a fate far worse than death?

A Comparison: Is The Son Always Like The Father?
Was Eddie a good father in the first place? I think he loved his son but did it all wrongly and in the end it was his son himself who put things right. I don't think he is a loving father though.

At first Cho was like his father but in the end when he bravely faced death so that he can face his own son, I feel he was a cut above his father. Ok, so he was still a scumbag but he had a conscience and he died a good man, repenting what he did or didn't do. My question is though Cho must be very virile because he kept impregnating many girls. Pity he had to die if not the Sperm Bank could use a bit of his err....donation. But he has bad genes, though like this series demonstrates, life isn't about genes but it is more about choices, conscious choices.

TV Mistake
This is listed in my TV Mistakes section and I shall reproduce it here, in a very long winded fashion.

Did you spot the mistake?

Nancy died about a decade ago. Wong Lam was about 17 when she met her mom again. If Nancy died about a decade ago and sometime the characters indicated more than 10 years has passed when she first met Nancy again, Wong Lam would have been about 6 to 7 years old when her mom was hanged. And believe me, that girl in the first few episodes look at least 10 to 12 years old. And we have Lawrence, so old in the present time and years before he was I think 12 or so? But that kid looked the same age as the girl. So when they grew up I thought Maggie will be Wong Lam you know. Either Gim Chai had a sudden old age syndrome or Wong Lam was afflicted with slow-mo old age syndrome. Very bad mistake.



What I Expected
I expected many great things from this series because a pitiful ghost always make an interesting story to watch. But it wasn't to be. Below is a list of what I expected to see from this series and none of it came true which means my prediction skills is getting rusty or like most TVB fans would say, "Funn, you're getting rusty but face the fact, this series is unpredictable and therefore refreshing." I beg to differ.

- I expected someone from the lead cast to die a tragic death, maybe Lawrence but I was betting on Maggie who will die from child birth and Lawrence will meet with her ghost and refuse to let go until Wong Ying Ku taught him how to let go. Well, let's just say I am even more sentimental and cruel than TVB writers.

- I expected Tong Ying Ying's ghost to appear and scaring the day lights out of Cho Weng Nin. Perhaps even push him to his death or something. Better yet, make Tong a very angry ghost and Cho at this dramatic moment realised he was the ultimate jerk and bag guy and so confessed, and we the viewers will be left wondering if the ghost was only a manifestation of Cho's inner conscience when Wong Lam begged Tong to appear before her and the spirit never did.

- I expected Eddie to die by thousands of gunshot wounds like those machine guns sweeping on his body. I wanted a more cruel death for such a cruel death. Those things about dying with flashback of the past, all the bad deeds are pure BS if you ask me. Better yet I was hoping to see some seriously mean spirits dragging his spirit away, and so at least I will know he is suffering in eternal hell.

- I expected Lau Dan to go to jail, not Maggie whom I expected to die.

- I expected Wong Lam to be adopted by the educated couple in the first few episodes (played by Yew Ying Ying and the old guy I can't remember his name for the life of me), when Wong Ying Ku was hanged, her father died a heart broken man and her grandma dying also. And later she would return like she was in the series, spoilt, unreasonable but rich.

- I would expect Wong Ying Ku to meet her husband again in the afterlife, but of course her husband reincarnated first, which cut off any possible teary reunion scenes.

- I would expect Lawrence to be more of a manly cop, scolding Wong Lam for being so nasty to her dead mother and even more threatening towards Eddie, not giving him face.

- I expect a full fledge story of Eddie being caught for his past deeds, not through his son and so I expected to see the woman he killed returning to haunt him day and night. Apparently good people framed for murder when they die become restless ghosts whilst other people murdered never return. I wonder why.

- I expected a sentimental and very touching ending, maybe like Wong Ying Ku saying good bye to her daughter and Gim, happy and contented whilst they all walked the final steps with her before the real final goodbye. I expected she to be reincarnated as Maggie and Lawrence's child. I actually expected that.

What I Didn't Expect
Well, all of the above are what I expected and so when the story didn't touch on any of those, I guess I didn't expect that. What I really didn't expect was how overly stupid the HK police force was and of course they were corrupted. And I never expected Maggie to live, more so imprisoned. That was shocking.

Performances Evaluated
The performances are generally good.

Maggie Cheung
A very good portrayal of a very timid woman. And a very good singer too. But her hair, too modern. And her face so big in the poster but her role is at best supporting, not the lead.

Lawrence Ng
He's not the best actor, or even a remotely good actor but he has a very soothing voice and he is good enough as Gim, albeit too old. Did you notice his belly?

Nancy Sit
She's not very famous in the 60s but reportedly she was a far better dancer than even Siew Fong Fong or Chan Po Chu. She was very perky then and still perky as ever now. Everybody sees her feels happy because she looks happy despite her miserable marriage and destitute life before a chance came knocking in the form of Kindred Spirit which made her even more famous than she was way back during the a-go-go time. But the thing is her acting is still stuck in the 60s you know, and whilst in the 60s there are great actresses Nancy Sit is not one of them. She is far too dramatic and cartoonish for my taste, I thought she's going to break out into an opera song anytime. I find her performance better than most older actors in TVB, Suet Lei for example but still for someone who has been acting since when I was not even a sperm or an ovum yet, she's really not very convincing, happy or crying.

Raymond Cho
I hope I got his name right. My sister kept saying he's far better looking than Frankie Lam, well maybe more cheerful looking. I always thought this young kid (who's not very young in real life) is a capable actor but in this character I see a promising future as the person to takeover the mantle of Kwok Yew Ming, when Kwok Yew Ming retires from such a role and move on to something more evil rather than petty. I find his performance quite ok and it is sad to see him dead at the end.

Wong Lam
Err...she looks young, feel like slapping her, more emotional than in Return Of The Cuckoo but still a very inadequate actress. Won't say she's bad like Sonija Kwok, but nothing exceptional and thus suitable only for secondary roles. But hey secondary roles often produces great actors so more accurate no screen presence. Maggie Cheung clearly had the star look though she dresses in simple dressing with minimum make up.

Verdict
For the fans of all the stars in this series. For those looking something more to the point, let's just say my review is more to the point than this series could ever be. It's not even a tear jerker, you want a tear jerker watch Looking Back In Anger. It's more like a soap opera, those Bold and the Beautiful soap operas which doesn't amount to much if you look at the plot because one big round, it's back to the same place. This series lost its momentum even before it started and dragged throughout, so to make it to a number of episodes. It would have been a better series if it were a tele-movie, or a movie. Basically for a series with so many people and so many dramatic moments, and it isn't exactly pointless, but the point took so long to manifest itself, I lost my patience about 30% of the way and that means 70% more before the ending. And if you look forward more to the ending than the process towards the ending, certainly you must realise one thing; this series is average at best and at worst, draggy and boring. Not my cup of tea and definitely not for those who wants a solid series with solid story and solid performances.

Rating


P.S.
I like the poster. It has a very dreamy kind of quality, very clear and very clean looking. Maggie's face is really huge in the poster but her role isn't which probably means she's famous, even though her role is supporting at best.

Interesting Observation
There is an interesting topic posted in this forum, along with 11 reasons why this series is great, all of which I beg to differ except that the series captured the older days and I don't think it was 50s or maybe it could have been.

Anyway, the links is at THIS FORUM

The keyword which interests me was "Human-like ghost" and that refers to Wong Ying Ku. But I think that's quite an oxymoron. I mean aren't ghosts human once? So when they become ghosts they will become un-humanlike so I would guess beast-like? I understood the author's meaning. What he was trying to say was she was still her human self, caring and all. But really, I wouldn't expect a ghost to be any different from human, maybe angry ghost, nice ghost, demonic ghost but they all stemmed from being human. Perhaps what he meant was a ghost with human-like consciousness, instead of demon-ish type of ghosts, that being a ghost and still afraid of dogs and getting bullied by other ghosts. Which is quite an interesting thing to say because you see Yip Ka Sing, though a human is more demon-like in what he did, all without ever feeling a twinge of guilt whilst Wong Ying Ku, a dead person and a restless ghost couldn't do what Yip Ka Sing did and so was in a way more "human" than Yip Ka Sing.

Interesting observation though.


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