"This series revolved around thirty days in the lives of people who fought for justice, and people who fought for a place in the Underworld. In a way, this may be hard for many of us to identify with as we do not live in a world where death might be upon us any minute, where greed and betrayal would destroy your lives forever and yet, those in Split do and this was portrayed realistically. "
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
No. Of Episodes
Cast & Characters
Alex Fong - Fung Chi Wai
Kevin Cheng - Wong Ka Fai (Vincent)
Patrick Tam - Yeung Kai Dong (Ah Dong)
Marco Ngai - Hao Mun Wa (leader of the largest gang in Hong Kong)
Yoyo Mung - Pang Wai
Sririta Jensen - Rita Artavar
Chatchai Plengpanich - Sam Punakabut
Claire Yiu - Chu Wing Kay (Wing)
Mandy Cho - Tang Wai Ching (Maggie)
Fiona Yuen - Law Sao Ling (Vicky)
Johnson Lee - Gum Yu Loi (Mao Gor)
Lau Gong - Cheng Kwan/Lee Man Ho (Kwan Sok)
Guo Hung - Wong Jung Yeung (Wong Sir)
Chris Lai - Au Geen Fone (Dick)
Wong Duk Bun - Hao Mun Wui
Lok Tat Wa - Hao Mun Ying
Moses Chan - Lok Yiu Kwok (Lok Sir)
Miki Yeung - Fung Mei Yan (Yan Yan)
Split Second: In A Nutshell
Split Second exposes the seedier side of life where men are often trapped in webs of deception and destruction, where men struggle to draw the fine line between the good and the evil, and where men staunchly stand by their own beliefs. Its themes of betrayal, greed, brotherhood, trust, justice and of love are strongly emphasized upon in this series through the lives of the characters.
It is knowing that you are an undercover cop yet after awhile, you lose yourself in the process.
It is going through your whole career in the force, wondering what really got you to the top.
It is the need to lead a normal life but the world changes when you have nobody to lead that life for.
This is one of those series which surpasses them all as it brings reality onto screen for many of us who have never felt what it is like to be one of these men who have no idea as to whether they would live to see tomorrow. Split allows the audience to look through the eyes of each of these men and identify with their various flaws, and at the same time, applaud them for their courage.
Split Second: The Characters
Characterization plays a vital role in every series and Split is no different. The actors have managed to put across the themes of this series and each actor had to reflect the emotional struggle they were going through in those thirty days; of uncertainty, doubt, and integrity, of anger, hatred and of passion. The depth of each character made what was made out to be a mediocre TVB series into a series which was a huge success, in my opinion.
Alex Fong as Fung Chi Wai
Alex Fong, the Actor:
I have not seen Alex in many roles but I have always seen him as the type who played very charismatic and manly roles like in Burning Flame II and yet, I was surprised that he was able to play a man whose life changed the moment his daughter died. Despite the fact that he was one of the most exasperating characters in Split, his performance was very convincing. I must say I found it hard to watch a man who I have always thought of as charismatic degrading himself to Fung Chi Wai’s extent in this series.
On Alex as Fung Chi Wai
As a divorced man and father who spent years in the police force content to be a sergeant, Fung Chi Wai’s life changed the moment he met Pang Wai (Yoyo Mung). In more ways that one, Pang Wai single-handedly cause the downfall of a man who was simply satisfied with the fact that he had a job until he retired, and had a daughter who loved him.
It was Pang Wai who started him on his journey, to avenge his daughter’s death, and to take away the lives of many.
Pang Wai linked him to Hao Mun Wa (Marco Ngai), the leader of the largest triad gang in Hong Kong. It was in loving the same woman, that both men waged war against each other. This put Fung Chi Wai in a suspicious position, and forcing him to fight back, for the woman he loved and the daughter he lost.
I felt that his extreme love for Pang Wai was a consequence of his daughter’s death. He was the man who never really had the chance to be the father he wanted to be and he found his “daughter” again in Pang Wai. Pang Wai was very much dependent on him, and it was her little lost girl story, which led him to sympathize with her and slowly, gave him the need to protect her from the world.
It was his need to live in a world where women were women and men went out to work. He wanted a perfect world, with a home, a family and a wife who loved him. Pang Wai became that woman, and he promised her security, love, family and a husband to depend on with the four rings he gave her when he proposed. He refused to believe that Pang Wai could be dependent of him, and developed delusions that Pang Wai suffered from schizophrenia and desperately needed him. This allowed him the belief that he could be that perfect man, husband and father.
His schizophrenic symptoms very much mirrored that of John Nash’s in A Beautiful Mind and this shows that the scriptwriters managed to research on what schizophrenic patients suffered from. Fong Chi Wai believed that the world was out to get him and Pang Wai and this caused him to strike back, killing people who were his friends, his breakdowns (in front of Hao Mun Wa, etc.) and walking around with a gun, as a representation of his masculinity. His delusions, the policemen running after him in Thailand, him killing Hao Mun Wa because he was going to hurt Pang Wai (and him), were very real to him because of his state of mind and it was what led to his downfall.
Kevin Cheng as Wong Ka Fai (Vincent)
Kevin Cheng, the Actor
Kevin was admittedly one of the more handsome actors in here. I thoroughly enjoyed his performance in Split partly because I was biased but because I was glad to see him in another of these meaty roles (like Hard Fate) which did not portray him as one of those men who used his looks to get through life, and two-dimensional roles like in Point of No Return and Not Just A Pretty Face did him no justice. This was one role where he got to play a high ranked officer (like in Burning Flame II) but was actually there for his ability and for his intelligence.
Kevin Cheng as Wong Ka Fai
There is more to Kevin Cheng as Wong Ka Fai than the fact that you can write to Wong Ka Fai at firstname.lastname@example.org. One would assume that such a role as the head of Team A in the Criminal Investigation Bureau would require a man of great intelligence, and an amazing leader as well as a role model but that assumption does not fully describe Wong Ka Fai.
There is more to Wong Ka Fai that meets the eye. On the surface, he seems like the lady killer, with Tang Wai Ching, Maggie (Mandy Cho) eyeing him all the time and Law Sao Ling, Vicky (Fiona Yuen) as his ex-girlfriend. He also seemed very cold-blooded, putting his undercover man in danger, pushing people who cared about him away and yet, we see him willing to sacrifice his life with his co-worker, Au Geen Foon, Dick (Chris Lai) during the bomb threat, and we see him asking to be the hostage instead of his co-worker. Yet, one could argue that he did it all because he was on the verge of death but it is his passion for his job and his need to believe in his own ability as a policeman that allowed him to stride with such courage in the last few days of his life.
His relationship with Maggie was very ambiguous right from the start as was his relationship with Vicky but that was pretty much clarified towards the end. The two women clearly loved him but it was Maggie who he finally chose to “spend his last days with” (although not literally). He was very touched by her willingness to sacrifice herself for him but he was very hurt by the fact that he had to “use her” in such a way, in order to stay on the case. I loved the scene where he wiped away the tears from Maggie’s cheeks when he was in prison, silently thanking her for loving him, and his touch telling her of his love for her yet both of them knowing that nothing would come into fruition from it.
Wong Ka Fai chose to live his life to the fullest, and not spend the last few weeks of his life in bed, wondering when he would die. He broke many laws, he fought for what he believed in and he saw through the safety of his undercover cop.
I admired his courage and his will to live on, and his willingness to admit that he managed to get where he got to because of his fellow cops, who stuck with him through thick and thin, and understood the essence of team work. I respected him for being brave enough to choose to die in a place where nobody knew him and was touched by his last call to Maggie, “Maggie, it’s me. I’ve resolved the problems here. I’ll be back to Hong Kong tomorrow and I want you to come get me at the airport. I’ll see you tomorrow.” And his relieved, and content smile, before drifting off into a world where he knows he will find peace was equally touching.
Patrick Tam as Yeung Kai Dong (Ah Dong)
Patrick Tam, the Actor
This is by far, Patrick’s best role in a TV series. I enjoyed his performance in Seed of Hope, and hated his character in Eighteen Springs but was impressed by the comedic Mo Den Keung in Angels of Mission but his shone beyond expectations as Ah Dong. His dilemma as an undercover cop, his doubt as to whether he is essentially good or bad and his funny moments in Split contributes greatly to the success of this series. I am horrified that he was not nominated for any awards in 2004, nor was Split.
Patrick Tam as Ah Dong
One of my favorite roles in Split (other than Wong Ka Fai but I’m very biased). Anyhow, Ah Dong here plays an undercover cop who has spent seven years or so by Hao Mun Wa’s side and had been frequently feeding Lok Yiu Kwok (Moses Chan) with information in relation to the triad’s activities. However, when Lok Sir died, Dong was left a loner, without an authorized person to report to. This led to his questioning as to whether he was still a cop, or had he turned into one of them. However, Wong Ka Fai sought him out, and decided that Dong shall be under his care.
It is amazing how Dong and his “big brother”, Gum Yu Loi, Mao Gor (Johnson Lee) manage to forge such a strong bond of brotherhood during Dong’s period as an undercover and after he was exposed. Their bond led me to realize that friendship forged in the most peculiar situations would be those that lasted forever. It was obvious the amount of respect they held for each other despite the fact that one was of them was “black” and one of them “white” (referring to their status in society). I saw Dong’s anguish when he had to face Mao Gor knowing that he had already been exposed, he had betrayed their friendship in order to fight for justice but it took a lot of guts for him to face his “big brother” again because of the respect he had for him. I felt Dong’s struggle to come to terms with the fact that Mao Gor had willingly traded his life for his time and time again, and for the last time, he had died saving Dong’s life once again.
I related Dong’s character to Hung Mo (Moses Chan) in War and Beauty partly due to the fact that he had two women deeply in love with him, one of them high-ranking, high-powered - Rita (Sririta Jensen), the other one the mother of his daughter, Wing (Claire Yiu). He was torn into two when he realized he could only choose one of them, and it was a tough decision to make. I respected him for only making his choice only when he felt it was safe to, because he did not want both of them to be waiting for him, unsure as to whether or not he would come back alive.
One of Dong’s best scenes was when he found out his daughter, Yiu Yiu had died. He had left Yiu Yiu in the car, with the engine running and the window rolled down. Unfortunately, Yiu Yiu decided to roll up the window, which put her in a life and death situation. Due to the fact that Dong had to be with Hao Mun Wa at that point in time, he lost his only daughter, not knowing that she was actually his daughter. This was the one thing that led him to drugs, to refusing to believe that there was any hope in working undercover. The tragedy was the knowledge that your daughter had died and she never had the chance to call you “daddy”, and neither did he have the chance to hear it.
It was his internal struggle which made his character so realistic. Many of us can relate to that “internal struggle” in a point in our lives. It may not have been the struggle an undercover cop goes through but the sort that was life-changing. Dong’s life changed the moment he decided to go undercover, and his life changed again when Wing told him that Yiu Yiu was his daughter. These life defining moments were delivered with such angst, such enigma, and confidence.
Marco Ngai as Hao Mun Wa
Marco Ngai, the Actor
Now, Marco delivered here - to perfection. I enjoyed every single one of his scenes because he was such a convincing actor. I believed that he was bad and yet he also managed to show a different side of him, which I thought was awfully touching. Marco has indeed molded himself into the role of the villain yet it he managed to pull off this role with me disliking his actions yet liking him at the same time.
Marco Ngai as Hao Mun Wa
Hao Mun Wa is one intricate character. Yes, he is the villain yet I do not look at him with as much contempt as I do when I see Pang Wai. I feel the need to defend Hao Mun Wa here because he was what he is as a consequence of his father’s actions. This was one man who grew up with a shortage of love in his household. He continually lived in uncertainty as a child because his mother was killed when he was young and his father left him and his brothers in an orphanage before fleeing to Thailand.
This left him with the responsibility of caring for his younger brothers, Hao Mun Wui (Wong Duk Bun) and Hao Mun Ying (Lok Tat Wa) at very tender age so he turned to what he had seen his father do - violence. He hid behind violence, throughout his years at the orphanage in order to protect himself, and keep himself secure as well as making sure his brothers do not suffer from the bullying of others. What was particularly interesting was the fact that he beat up a child who was bullying Lok Yiu Kwok (Moses Chan) who became his best friend and later, a policeman. He felt the need protect Lok Yiu Kwok and yet as adults, kinship took precedence over his friendship with Lok Yiu Kwok when he felt that his father, Cheng Kuan was being threatened by the police force’s investigation.
I assume that this was what led him to being one of the most notorious triad gang leaders in Hong Kong. He did what he had to do in order to survive, first, by living up to his father’s expectations and second, in order to provide a sense of security for him and his brothers. And then, he met Pang Wai who, like Fung Chi Wai, he felt a great need to protect. Her past struck a chord with him, and he fell in love with her, knowing that she could continually be dependent on him. Yet, she fell in love with Fung Chi Wai, and depended on him instead, leaving Hao Mun Wa no choice, but to fight back for the woman he loved.
I was never doubtful as to whether Hao Mun Wa really loved Pang Wai. He continually caused havoc in the lives of Fung Chi Wai and his daughter, in order to hurt Pang Wai indirectly and yet he never laid a hand on her. Neither has he emotionally abused her in any way. He may have tried to hurt her, hoping (for awhile) that she might return to his side but I was glad that at the end, he proved me right.
Yoyo Mung as Pang Wai
Yoyo Mung, the Actress
Yoyo was very, very convincing indeed as the selfish, self-centered woman who desperately wanted to live in a real world where only she and Fung Chi Wai existed in.
Yoyo Mung as Pang Wai
Pang Wai had a desperate need to see the world through rose-tinted glasses and she chose to. She chose to tag around behind Fung Chi Wai, with the knowledge that it would put his life, career and family in jeopardy. She chose to chase after Fung Chi Wai who went to Thailand, with the need to avoid Pang Wai and avenge his daughter’s death and yet she followed him all the way there. For a woman who caused him his career, and his daughter, she sure had a lot of courage to stay on with him.
Personally, I thought she was the stupidest character I have come across in the longest time and yet, she is a master at pulling the strings of her puppet - Fung Chi Wai. She manipulated him to the extent that he developed schizophrenia as a result of her need to cling to him. Her clingy-self made Fung Chi Wai feel needed, and gave him the strength he needed to avenge his daughter’s death.
Split Second: Supporting Cast
I thoroughly enjoyed the supporting cast in Split. Each one of them managed to make the character their own and together, they managed to hold this series together.
A special mention must be given to the Thai actors, Sririta Jensen and Chatchai Plengpanich who played both Rita and Sam respectively. Although I liked Rita, as a character, I enjoyed Sam’s performance more. His character gave him a chance to display an array of emotions; from his confidence as an undercover cop to his anguish knowing that he would have to betray the father he had come to respect and love.
In addition to them, Johnson Lee’s performance as Mao Gor was also a highlight of Split. He soon shed his tough and brash surface and brought to life his softer side. Throughout the series, he continually fought for Dong’s life and protected him because he was his “little brother.” I was touched by his last scene, where he brought Dong back for Wing, before settling himself down into the rocking chair and quietly left the world himself, satisfied. One would be surprised at the tears welling in his eyes whenever he holds a shouting match with Dong.
Lau Gong, who played Cheng Kwan also deserves a standing ovation. Credit must be given to his amazing ability to bring his character to another level. Despite being the villain, I still sympathized with him, and felt his guilt and regret over his wife’s death, and slowly his sons’.
As it was Mandy Cho’s (Maggie) first time on screen, she was stiff most of the time, and sounded monotonous at times. She did get better as the series progressed so I’m assuming Split was shot in sequence as much as possible. My favourite scene of her was with Wong Ka Fai when he was in jail (as I have mentioned above). Fiona Yuen (Vicky) has just about as much screen time as Mandy did but she was definitely far from stiff and quite likeable although she did keep me guessing as to whether she really loved Wong Ka Fai or not.
I felt that Split Second has been much underrated due to the fact that it aired right after the success of War and Beauty. However, I felt that Split is very much the modern version of War but told from a man’s perspective. Its themes parallel War’s, but in a context that more of us can identify with.
I know many have complained about the fact that it was illogical as to so much could have been done in thirty days and yet, I thought that was one of its most logical parts of the plot. So much happens around the world in a couple of seconds, a birth into the world, a death, an accident, a friend made. This series revolved around thirty days in the lives of people who fought for justice, and people who fought for a place in the Underworld. In a way, this may be hard for many of us to identify with as we do not live in a world where death might be upon us any minute, where greed and betrayal would destroy your lives forever and yet, those in Split do and this was portrayed realistically. It is what happens in those wee hours of the mornings that never makes it into the news, it is how much some people strive for what they believe is right and it is wanting a prove to yourself that you are one of the best there is.