"Maybe it's her (Charmaine Sheh) soft voice,her face that is always a frown here.I know,she can act with her face,if she is supposed to have this sad look for 20 episodes,but I suspect what she lacks is the ability to act with her body.She has absolutely no body language,she doesn't know what to do with her hands and her voice,she needs intensive training for that.Quite a pity,because she has this really elegant look here,but she just doesn't have the talent."
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
10 tapes / 20 episodes.
Who’s in it
Felix Wong,Kwok Yew Ming,Charmaine Sheh,Chu MiMi,Monica Chan,Tse Tin Wah and many others.
What And Where
Set in modern HK, it is basically a tale about people who went to prison,came out and how they adapt to a society who will be more ready to prosecute them again rather than accepting them into their "perfect" world.
No,not Prison On Fire type of storyline,it's much more optimistic,no evil prison wardens,no killing each other in prison.It is more about life AFTER prison term ends.So basically,it could have been a story about hope,but the writers preferred to make it into a story about love,relationships and acceptance(by tehir own family,not society).So no brutal torture scenes nor profanities here.Strictly family entertainment.
Quite simply,our story concerns mainly 2 men,one Kwok Yew Ming as Ah Lik and another Felix Wong as Ah Chuen.Ah Lik is your typical successful architect,with a loving and beautiful wife,Ada(Charmaine Sheh) and lots of money,whilst Ah Chuen is your typical uneducated man,with one rebellious teenage daughter(16 years old) named Ah Man and a young son,named Ah Kit.Life was ok,up until Ah Chuen hit the foreman (and the foreman suffered severe injuries,almost to the brink of death) and Ah Lik hit someone with his car,and that man died.Ah Chuen got 9 months in prison term,because he pleaded guilty and Ah Lik got 6 months prison term,because he was led to believe that by pleading guilty,he could be freed with no prison term.These two men would never have been the best of friends if not for the prison,where they met and lived togetehr for the duration of their prison term.There they met Brother Liu,a small time crook that will be the one to have almost cause their downfall,and a very fierce big brother of the prison,that almost killed Ah Chuen,but amazingly,later became their friends and partner.And in tehre,they both met Jackie(Monica Chan),a very young and ultra optimistic social worker who would go all the way to help them both,and had them both falling for her.And when they thought prison was hard,life outside prison was worst.Ah Lik got discrminated because of this criminal record of his and thus,he couldn't fijnd job,picked faults on his wife who was at the same time pursued by an old friend,rich,successful and gentlemanly,Calvin.Ah Chuen's relationship with his children became worst,and in the end his ex-wife came back to reclaim trhe custody of both her children,because of his children's fear of this very bad father.Will they all have a happy ending?
The Love Plots
Ah Lik-Ada-Calvin , Ah Chuen-Jackie-Ah Lik .I think you would've guessed who ended up with who.
Plenty here,because I left out a lot of details in The Plot section,so one by one for all the gaps you must've noticed in the storyline above.
Ah Chuen became a prisoner
Simply,he hit the foreman with an oxigen tank and that guy went into a coma.I would've hit him too,because you see,Ah Chuen was a diver,he worked for construction companies,doing survey works of the foundation,etc,those with a lot of danger elements in it and during one time,the foreman,Ah Lik(who was the chief project manager/architect there),Thoman(Tse Tin Wah as Ah Lik's bro in law) requested that Ah Chuen and his gang searched the tunnel again for the reason why the water level was rising so fast.We as viewers knew that Thomas did not fulfill his obligation of some construction works,and thus caused such a big problem with the foundation,which Ah Lik did not know until now.Ah Chuen refused,because it was very dangerous as the water was too dangerous to swim in,and so he left.His gang members agrred because of the money,so one guy wnet down very very reluctantly,and ended up drowned.Ah Chuen became so angry(and he had this problem of controlling his anger),attacked the foreman.He didn't believe the foreman was that hurt until he went to the hospital and saw that man lying there in coma.And so he pleaded guilty and accepted his punishment,because frankly,he deserved it though he didn't really deserved 9 months.
Ah Lik became a prisoner
Continuing from Ah Chuen's story,because of thsi one death,the Architect Association started an inquiry into the accident,his boss fired him,his mom in law criticised him,and so because he was so unhappy,he became drunk one night,drove really fast,with policemen behind him,HIT an old man and that old man died.So many witnesses,it was amaxing that he could believe ,Mark his bro in law's legal advise and pleaded guilty thinking that the judge will sentence him to maybe no prison term.He was wrong and he got 6 months.And so his life was ruined,by Thoman,Mark and he himself.
Ah Chuen's victim didn't die and...
I know you're gonna have this question in your mind.Why Ah Lik,actually having KILLED that man got 6 mths and Ah Chuen,got 9 mths?I do not see the logic in this but since I do not have the Penal Code of HK Criminal Laws with me,I guess we have to suspend our disbelief forever.
They were not tortured in prison
Ah Lik was tortured,beaten and humiliated by a small time leader,Brother Liu.Ah Chuen's predicament was even worse!He was betaen ,tortured,almost killed by Big Song(meaning "very Crazy"),the feared leader of another cell.But somehow,amazingly.Ah Lik who had been a cry baby in there(meaning crying every night before he slept,demanding to call his very pregnant wife,and when he found out she lost the baby,he cried even more),became brave at the right moment and together with Brother Liu,they fought with Big Song's gang and won.Big Song was later transferred,when he almost(again) killed Ah Chuen and hurt the social worker,Jackie.
Ah Lik divorced the wife
Why not would be my question?Actually,they didn't really divorced because they wanted to.It was actually the doings of Mark,Thomas and Ada's mom,all who had become pimps for Calvin.Neither wanted to talk to each other after Ah Lik became so disappointed with his life,he shouted at his wife and suffered from what I would call,low self esteem.So when they divorced,the wife came back out to work for Calvin,and Ah Lik worked for Hip Kuan,the company belonging to the Social Welfare for Prison dept.
Ah Chuen's children hated him
Ah Man hated him,because he was never a good father.Ah Kit feared him because he was never a gentle father.Ah Chuen belong to the old school of thought for partenthood,use the cane instead of persuasions.And since today's children,we have to buy them Tomagochi instead of using a cane or screaming at them because they're very emotionally weak,the ways of Ah Chuen will never work.Though I would agree that we must use the cane sometimes,but Ah Chuen's ways is not the cane itself,but pushing,grabbing,beating,screaming all in the PUBLIC place.So even children need to have some sort of space,respect and love.So the daughter though a nice girl became very rebellious and the son became so emotionally scarred during one screaming session of the father's,that he needed counselling and many episodes before the son would even look at his father.So the wife could've easily took them home with her ,that is Australia and her gwailo husband,John.
She didn't do that
She almost did but you see,the daughter was never stupid.She could never undertsand why her mom left and only came back after so many years.Deep inside them,Ah MAn and Ah Kit loved their father,when he was not screaming and shouting.And after all,they never really knew their mother really well.So they didn't want to be with her.But during one time where Ah Kit fought with a fellow classmate,the father came to the school,and talked to the teacher.He walked to his son,wanting to reason with him(and by this point,Ah Chuen had changed and mellowed down though he may still talk a bit too loud),the son so afraid that the father would beat him to deatj,ran out of school and was almost hit by a car.Realising that,Ah Chuen felt that they would be happier with the mother.So he made the decision for them.
They (at last) didn't go
Because Ah Chuen and Ah Lik was trapped,in the final episode under a big big pile of mud and almost died.The children rushed to their father,crying,screaming and kicking.So that's why.And Ah Chuen realised that he could never live without his children,so he wanted them to stay back.And so did the ex-wife.
Ada wanted....what was the question
Yes,I know what you have in mind.SO who did Ada ended up with?Calvin or Ah Lik?Frankly,she loved Ah Lik,but Calvin was like someone her whole family(except teh father) wanted her to be with.But during one time,the last episode Ah Lik was trapped in the big big pile of mud and Ada begged him to not to die and to stay alive.So,that's the ending actually.
Jackie wanted...what was the question
Ahhhh!Love!Anyway,Jackie.She was with Ah Lik at first,but realiseing that the man still have eyes for his wife,they broke up and she realised the man that loved her all along was Ah Chuen.So ,another ending for you here.
Calvin just let them be
Well,with the actor who played Lee Chi Hou in Kindred Spirit,I would've thought maybe he would do something nasty.Nothing of that sort for this perfect gentleman here.He was the one who gave Ah Lik an opportunity to be what he was again,trusted him,gave him his company to handle and when at last when Ah Lik was trapped under the big big pile of mud,Ah Lik told him to take care of Ada,but that Calvin,told Ah Lik that he will not take care of Ada and told him to take care of Ada himself.Such a gentleman,a good man that I personally feel Ada should've be with.
Mark and Thomas got away with their crimes
What crimes you may ask.Simply,they worked for Calvin,and behind his back diverted the funds for building the strong foundation for Calvin's construction site to their own account,and thuis the foundation was very weak,that Calvin kidna suspected and told Ah Lik to investigate and because of that,Ah Lik and Ah Chuen was trapped under that pile of mud,because Mark and Thomas did something to that place.So actually,they did not get away with their crimes.
Big Song became friends with Ah Chuen and Ah Lik
I don't know.I guess the past is the past.He ain't that bad,outside of prison,because life outside is much more complicated than in prison.
Most Irritating Character
DefinitelyCharmaine Sheh.For why,look below under Worst Performance.
Most Dysfunctional family
Two here.One is Ah Chuen and his family,for the above stated reasons.The second would be Ah Lik and Ada,for reasons to be stated below.
There is something terribly wrong with Ah Lik and his wife.I will call this something as "communiaction breakdown".The wife listened to the brother saying that Ah Lik wanted a divorce,and so she signed.The man listened to the brother saying that Ada wanted a divorce and so he signed.See the problem here?It was always what other people told them and they never ever really talked face to face and say what's wrong with their relationship.And the fact that Jackie,Ah Chuen and those who never really knew Ada thought Ada as someone who liked money and was materialisticv because of her relationship with Calvin,you do realise that something is terribly wrong here.Of course Ada was the perfect wife,kind,understanding,beautiful,supportive,only if they just talked.
Most Explosive Character
Definately Ah Chuen.If you were his children,you too would hate him.But then,there is a softer side of him,if only people borther to look.
Most Wimpish Character
Ah Lik,especially when he was in prison,crying himself to sleep,then when he was out of prison,drinking himself to (almost )death.
Most Supportive Character
Nope,not Ada but Jackie.I have never seen a social worker,so eager in her job and so bloody helpful and ultra optimistic.
Most Unexpected Villian
Maybe I've seen too much of Kindred Spirit and Aunty Yung(the maid to the old couple).Th idea of seeing her as a really naggy mother in law,who became a pimp for Calvin(that is always pushing her daugher to Calvin) just doesn't seem right.But I really hated her character.
Most Hated Characters
The mother,Mark and that ultra jerk,Thomas.
Most Unexpected Good Guy
Again,I must've watched too much of Kindred Spirit.Before i saw this serial,when I knew that the actor that played that really bad Chi Hou in Kindred Spirit,the mean evil brother of Louise Koo in Burning Flame and the bad boss of Sammi Cheng in Man's Best Friend,I kinda expected to see him as the villian here,forcing Ada to be with him and taking every opportunity to crush Ah Lik.Sure,he did insulted Ah Lik,but overall,his Calvin was a good gentleman.I was very impressed espeacially the ending.So getting a good well known to be a villian to be a good guy would be great,because something different.Just like Sunny Chan,the good guy as the bad guy in ATE and Kong Wah the good guy as the bad guy in Mr Diana.
Felix Wong .The rest are ok,except for Monica Chan who could be quite annoying when she is shouting and panicking and also for this one,below.
I take back what I have said about Lee San San.She is not the worst actress in TVB.Charmaine Sheh deserves this honour because she is consistantly bad in all her serials,with no sign of improvement.Now,I see hope in Lee San San but not Charmaine.Maybe it's her soft voice,her face that is always a frown here.I know,she can act with her face,if she is supposed to have this sad look for 20 episodes,but I suspect what she lacks is the ability to act with her body.She has absolutely no body language,she doesn't know what to do with her hands and her voice,she needs intensive training for that.Quite a pity,because she has this really elegant look here,but she just doesn't have the talent.Especially the scene where Ah Lik was insulting her and she got so mad that she begged him to stop and slapped him.What I wrote her could portray more of the emotional feelings in that charcater than she did in the serial.So I guess,she can't act.But I guess I'll have to wait for Flying Fox on Snowy Mountain,or something like that.Anyway,she is really bad here,so get ready for torture time.Even Yuen Yuen from War OF The Genders could act better.
Note : This series was Charmaine Sheh's first series so in retrospect this comment may be a bit unfair on her but I maintain she was bad for many years subsequently to this series - Funn Lim [27.02.2005]
If I Were The Scriptwriter…
Except for Charmaine Sheh who have spoiled this serial,the whole serial's plot is ok.Maybe change Charmaine for someone else,this would've been a glowing review.
So,Should I Rent It…
If you can stand Charmaine Sheh,why not?This is actually a very good serial,the few starting scenes,then we have really boring stuff in between and a very good few last tapes.It has its ups and downs,more ups than downs.Basically,I liked this one.And the song by Andy Hui,my favourite TV themesong at the moment,same rank as in JTTW I/JTTW II,Plain Love II/GTO. Excellent song.something refreshing that you can hardly hear these days.
It Must Have Been Better Than…
All prison movies?Less morbid and much more optimistic.
My uncle who saw this one months ago asked me,why a good looking guy like Kwok Yew Ming never have a 100% hero role,and why someone like Lau Yoke Chui never have the lead role whilst guys like Felix WOng,Wong Hei got all the lead roles?To say that they could act better isn't really accurate because frankly,Liu Kai Chi could act ,so does Lau Yoke Chui,even better than some lead actors.But I couldn't help but remember this incident some 2 years ago.
My sisters and I were watching this Tamil hit Movie,Indian with Kamal Hassan and a very well known actress,for her beauty and everything else,Monisha Koirola(something like that).I have heard about this actress but never seen her before.My sister kept telling me,"this girl doing the aerobics is her" but looking at that girl,I couldn't help but feel perhaps it might be someone else.Sure the girl was pretty but something was missing.And then in the same next scene another woman,in sari,very thin with no make up on and she walked into the room and I immediately knew that that was Monisha.The same actress in Dil Se with Shah Rukh Khan.no make up and she looked great.She can act but there was more to being able to act .She has what I would call Charisma.You just have to look at her.Just like Stephen Chau,Ruby Lin,Vicky Zhao,Zhou Jie,Yue Ling,Fann Wong,Takashi Sorimachi,Kong Wah(but decreasing charismatic appeal these days),Bobby Au Yeung,Roger Kwok.All very good actors with really strong fans base.The thing is ,people like Kwok Yew Ming,Charmaine Sheh,Lee San San,they're all beautiful people but they have no looking-power,meaning the more you look at them,the more flaws you see in them in terms of acting,looks and behaviours.I mean they're nice poeple I am sure but I just feel that perhaps TVB should consider the idea of a Talent Search Contest instead of Miss HK pageant to find new talents.Just being able to stand in front of the camera,and smile is not enough.They must be able to act,to carry out the role given to them and more importantly,to be the lead actor/actress,there must be something that the viewers can look forward to seeing them,a chameleon like ability not to change how one looks but how one carries himself/herself.This I could not see in all new talents of TVB in recent years..
Believe it or not.I almost did not.Charmaine Sheh is seeing William Lam Ka Tung,that guy in Plain Love II AND the girl that plays Felix Wong's daughter,Ah Man is seeing Roger Kwok Chun Onn.
And according to realiable sources,and as opposed to my own personal beliefs,Charmaine Sheh did not come from a well to do family nor did she studied in a higher institution.With her very ladylike behaviour I would've thought perhaps she must've been like a rich man's daugther but she isn't.I was told that she said that she could've been a typist or a clerk if not for acting,so Miss HK was a big break through for her.So I guess you can never judge a book by its cover,not that I am saying the contents of the book is like really bad,just the looks.
And some really really strange interesting facts.This serial was made 2 years ago and it will be released in HK this coming few months.I mean,everywhere else would have already watched this one but not in HK.By the way,no wonder Charmaine Sheh was soooooo bad in her acting in here,because this is her FIRST serial!!Well then,I guess she was ok if this was her first attempt at serious acting but still,she has never improved at all in 2 years.And has she been in TVB for 2 YEARS?And you might be wondering,the chinese title differs in HK and in everywhere else.In HK,it's known as,in cantonese "Sang Ming Mou Take Two",loosely translated as "Life has no take two".Really strange.