"I could not recall seeing Michael Miu act before but I was blown away by his amazing screen presence here as Lee Sir. The attention he commanded from the police cadets under his authority was the same sort of charisma which attracted the audience to the television screen. I did not doubt at all his ability to portray the strict, domineering, and staunch Lee Sir because physically, he was the epitome of Lee Sir."
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
Michael Miu - Lee Man Sing (Lee Sir)
Mai Suet - Ivy Chan Yin Ting
Ron Ng - Chung Lap Man
Sammul Chan - Lee Pak Kiu
Tavia Yeung - Ho Fa
Fiona Sit - Fiona Ma Oi Lam
Chin Ka Lok - Kuk Ming Chueng (Kuk Sir)
Priscilla Ku - Ko Wai Gwan (Madam Ko)
The Academy: In A Nutshell
The Academy brings onto screen the lives of young men and women, who strive to get through 27 weeks in the Police Training School (PTS). Starting out with different reasons behind their need to successfully graduate from PTS, they ended up united and determined to serve the community together in the force. Those who entered PTS as boys and girls, graduated as men and women - crumpled up sheets of paper, erased and straightened back to normal.
Michael Miu as Lee Man Sing
I could not recall seeing Michael Miu act before but I was blown away by his amazing screen presence here as Lee Sir. The attention he commanded from the police cadets under his authority was the same sort of charisma which attracted the audience to the television screen. I did not doubt at all his ability to portray the strict, domineering, and staunch Lee Sir because physically, he was the epitome of Lee Sir. It was when his cold stare turned into warm smile that blew me away. He was the gruff teddy bear when he was with Ivy (Mai Suet) and yet, he was the same man who managed to talk sense into each and every one of the police cadets under him.
As the series unfolded, the serious Lee Sir learnt to smile at his cadets. He learned how to care, and how to give in. He also learned how to be a father figure to the girls and boys under his care and he learned what it meant to let down his guard. The look of love in his eyes when he looked at the cadets showed how proud he was of them, and underneath all that coolness, he really cared. Of course, he had a different sort of chemistry with Ivy - the tenderness in his eyes when he looked at her, and asked if she would celebrate her birthday with him next week was beautiful.
From the gruff exterior, to the look on his face when he learned that he was a father - Michael Miu shone all the way through The Academy.
Mai Suet as Ivy Chan Yin Ting
Watching The Academy, it never occurred to me what a veteran in the industry Mai Suet really was. Her impressive performance here wowed me no end. Despite her petite frame, her screen presence was just as commanding. She was great as the mother who would willingly sacrifice herself for her children; the wife forgave her husband for her children’s sakes, and the woman who finally found love in the one man who knew how to treat her right. Her soft-spoken nature and her gentleness added to the motherly package perfectly.
As much as I loved her scenes with Lee Sir, it was her scenes with Man that struck a chord with me. Through her eyes, I saw her hurt when her children could not understand the break-up of her marriage and I saw her determination to pull through without having to affect her children’s idolization of their father. I also saw the plea in her eyes, when asking Lee Sir to “re-mould” her son for her just as I saw the joy in her eyes when Man finally grew up.
I admired her desire to be a better mother each and every second of the day - from learning to let go and let her son find himself, to working harder just so her daughter could have all she wanted and to finally allowing herself to be loved and cared for.
Ron Ng as Chung Lap Man
Ron Ng finally redeemed himself in my eyes in The Academy! I was just about certain he was no actor when I watched him in Lost in the Chamber of Love but he definitely proved me wrong in this series. (Yes, he was still stiff at times, but was much better here). I saw glimpses of Isaac (his character in Triumph in the Skies) in here but above all, I saw a different side of Ron.
Chung Lap Man was irrational, unreasonable, rash and yet very dashing as the stubborn and naughty boy who grew into an honourable and respectable young policeman. In 32 episodes, I saw him learn how to believe not only in himself but to trust his fellow cadets. I saw his desire to see his family together again, and his thirst to win his bet with Lee Sir just so his parents would reconcile. It was when he realised that only he himself desired his parents’ reconciliation, and that he had to learn to respect their decisions, that Man saw through his own rose-tinted glasses.
I said before I was touched by his chemistry with Mai Suet, and I am certain it is because of these sparks with his fellow colleagues that made this series a successful one for Ron. The grudging respect he held for Lee Sir, the camaraderie with his fellow cadets and his chemistry with Ho Fa (Tavia Yeung) is definitely worth watching in this series!
In Academy, Man learned the importance of comradeship, to respect and love the people who care about him and how to become a real man.
Sammul Chan as Lee Pak Kiu
Sammul Chan played a more complex character in here, as Lee Pak Kiu. I have gotten a bit tired of the same old characters he played - the son with the rich dad, the arrogant and proud boy, the rash young boy. Kiu was not rich, but was definitely very proud. He had staunch principles and could not bring himself to trust people.
And yet, he chose to walk the path to train to be part of the police force, where it was of utmost importance that you learnt to trust your comrade. Kiu and Man started out as rivals in PTS as both were very competitive in a very irrational way but they slowly began to realise how similar they were in some ways, and not in others.
Like Ron, Sammul had an advantage here, with many scenes with Michael Miu and Chin Ka Lok who played Kuk Sir - the support from the veterans managed to highlight his acting abilities and displayed them in a better light. Unfortunately, the chemistry between Kiu and Fiona (Fiona Sit) did not have the oomph it needed for it to succeed.
Here, we see Kiu ultimately learning how to trust and knowing he can rely on others and finding out what it was really like to have the love of a father.
Tavia Yeung as Ho Fa
I feel that Tavia Yeung has been seriously underrated as an actress. I have to give props where credit is due because Tavia definitely brought Ho Fa to life in The Academy. Despite her lack of screen time compared to some of the others, the range of emotions required here proved once again her credibility as an actress.
Ho Fa’s relationship with her thieving family was a very well-bonded and loving one. It was obvious from the start how much respect she held for them and yet, it was still hard for her to accept that they stole for a living. It was through working at the canteen at PTS that she once again met the guy who helped put her brother in jail for theft as well as her best friend, Fiona (Fiona Sit).
Her struggle to leave behind the sort of life her family once depended upon, and to find her own identity through her career and to admitting her love for Man was just as much a part of her own growing up as it was to the police cadets.
Fiona Sit as Fiona Ma Oi Lam
I went into watching The Academy with zero expectations on Fiona Sit’s performance as Fiona Ma Oi Lam and unfortunately, her performance in here did not exceed expectations. It was a simple sort of character to portray, really - rich girl, very spoilt, used to getting her ways and entered PTS because she idolised Lee Sir and yet, Fiona failed to pull it off.
Coming from a rich family, Fiona’s (the character) parents could not see why their precious daughter wanted so badly to enter as a police cadet and tried unsuccessfully to convince her otherwise. She wanted to prove to herself, as well as to her idol, that she could graduate from PTS and the spoilt girl who lugged her entire wardrobe into a hostel where they would only be in uniform chose to fall in love with the most complex fellow cadet in there, Kiu.
Fiona (the character) came across as annoying in many more ways than one, especially when she first started off in PTS. However, like all the others, she was taught to appreciate all that she could not get from just swiping her daddy’s credit card - comradeship, discipline, and independence.
I was particularly impressed by the roles the two other more significant trainers in the lives of the police cadets - Madam Ko (Priscilla Ku) and Kuk Sir (Chin Ka Lok). Their paring was very comedic, and at the same time, it felt right. The gentle, yet stern Madam Ko and the hilarious Kuk Sir (who was a very skilled guns-man) drew the audience’s attention not only with their chemistry but with their well-scripted dialogues which bounced off each other to perfection.
Is The Academy worth watching? Definitely! One can easily relate to it in many more ways than one - each and every one of us has learnt the lesson of growing up. It was very well paced from start to finish; it was funny and sad at the same time, serious and very loving.
This series has made me want to be the one ploughing through the 27 weeks of police cadet training, in hopes that I might meet a trainer as charismatic as Lee Sir and just so I could have a chance to feel that comradeship I saw throughout Academy.
(for various reasons one would know when it finishes)