"However most TVB productions is about casting the more popular one in a role that may be right for him or her if he or she is given more time to prepare for the role and unfortunately that may not be the case. I am not saying this because this is so for this series, quite the contrary. I find the casting in this series suitable because the characters themselves are not exactly that complex or that complicated."
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
No. of episodes
Way too long, 30 episodes.
Way too many people for a series with few stories.
The Lam Family
Michael Tao Dai Yu as Lam Yat Kong (1st son)
So Jee Wai as Lam Yi Yeung (2nd son)
Moses Chan as Lam Sam Hor (Ah Sui, 3rd son) / Sik Sui
Leong Lit Wai as Lam Sei Hoi (4th son)
Natalie Tong Si Wing as Lam Siu Wu (youngest daughter)
The Kei Family
Kenix Kwok Hor Ying as Kei Hoi Sum (1st daughter)
Bernice Liu Bik Yee as Kei Mei Lai (2nd daughter)
Fred Cheng Chun Wan as Kei Chung Ming (youngest son)
Paul Chun Pui as Kei Tin Man
Wong Ka Lok as Tong Yan (Yan Jai)
Anne Heung Hoi Lam as Bik Fun
June Chan Kei as Money
Carlos Ng Ka Lok as Nicky
Akina Hong Wah as Rachel
Thanks to Bridget Au for the full cast list.
Looking at the length, I decided to change this from an opinion to a review. For the synopsis, cast details and other production details, do check out Bridget Au's review HERE. For convenience purposes, I will use the name of the actors in place of the characters because I can't remember the characters' names.
It has been quite some time I have watched this series over at ASTRO and sad to say my memory is failing me. Oddly enough I could remember almost every frame of Journey To The West so the only conclusion I can reach is really this series, Love Bond isn't that memorable. It has its moments but the repetition of the same factors can be very very tiresome to watch.
Basically this is a story that MediaCorp would love to make and will make, a family drama with a bit of comedy moments and plenty of love and sibling issues. We have a big brother, Michael Tao who went overseas to work as a chef and dutifully sent money home so that his 2 brothers and one baby sister could study and not go through hardship. Unfortunately when he came back, not only was the 2nd brother (So Chee Wai) was running a not so successfuly fake flower supplies business (the actual term for the business fails me at this moment of time), the younger brother stopped schooling so as to work with the 2nd brother as a salesman and his youngest sister wants to be a model instead of finishing university. He had placed much hope on his siblings only to find them in trouble and doing badly in their lives. But that was not just his problem. He came back nursing a broken heart because his girlfriend, Anne Heung I believe of 6 years (or was it 16 years?) dumped him because she realised they were not compatible. He also in a way carried the guilt of his one missing 3rd brother who went missing when he was little. So he was heart broken at the sorry state of his family and his love life. And then he met a renovator named Moses and it was not before long that he noticed certain similarity between Moses and his long lost brother. Moses realised Michael may be his brother too but refused to acknowledge him because he felt hurt that he was abandoned when he was little. Michael made amends and in the end Moses was touched by Michael's love and caring attitude. Problem now is the other members of the family, maybe except for the sister disliked Moses and felt he was an outside. It didn't help that So's long time girlfriend, June Chan was back stabbing Moses and time and time again Moses was doubted, accused and scolded for matters not entirely his fault but Moses persevered because he did it for the love of Michael who wanted badly to reunite the family once again.
Meanwhile we have another family of independent women headed by a very motherly father, Paul Chun. Kenix is the eldest and the shrewdest when it comes to business, that is her flower tea business shop called One Cup Of Flower Tea. Second sister, Bernice is a customs officer and a very dedicated one. The youngest is a useless son, who refuses to work and continues to study so that he does not have to bear any responsibility. And when the sisters forced him to work since he wasn't doing well in his studies, the father continued to subsidize him.
It wasn't long before Kenix who really liked Michael fell for Moses who wooed her because she reminded him of his gentle mother (Winnie Yeung). Kenix realised this and decided to break off the relationship and Moses realised that too, that he didn't really love her like he should have and he too broke off teh relationship. This gave Michael a chance to develop his relationship with Kenix, with the consent of Moses whilst Moses developed feelings for Bernice. However trouble looms when Anne came back with a baby in tow, claiming the baby was Michael's. Being a responsible person, Michael decided to marry Anne whilst it was Kenix who wanted to leave Hong Kong with a broken heart. And just as sudden Anne who realised Michael had fallen for another told Michael that the baby wasn't his, that she borrowed the baby from a friend. So Michael and Kenix can happily get married and it was Anne's turn to return to where she came back from with the baby that was actually Michael's.
Meanwhile, Moses married Bernice and Kenix married Michael. But the sibling rivalry between Moses and family were getting worse and worse when Moses left the company to build his own company with the financial support of Michael. It was so bad that one brother ended up committing a crime and the other wanting to cover up that crime.
So how will it all end?
Must you ask?
Happy ending of course. Extremely happy ending in fact. Such a perfect ending in fact. I am not complaining about that in fact. Let me make it clear; I do think this series gets better and better as it went on and on. It has many repetetive moments, in fact the entire series seems to base it on that premise in most part; that is sibling rivalry over the Lam family that after a while it became very tiresome to watch. How many times must Moses be doubted? Many times. It just shows the jealousy simmering on the surface of a happy family. It is quite real, I mean it is logical that the 2nd brother will say "How can you supply him with funding when he wasn't even your brother for that long? I am your brother too and we are brothers longer than you with him!". It is logical for the youngest brother to say "So what? Who is he? Why should he stay here when it is so crowded already?". But after many episodes of the same thing, it is not only boring but predictable.
What is interesting to watch though is how the youngest brothers of both families reacted to different situations. All along the youngest brother of Kenix is useless, lazy and unmotivated. And yet in the end he was the one who became motivated and actually changed into a better person after he heard some good advice from Michael and family. Meanwhile Michael's youngest brother out of anger and backstabbing from June about Moses that Moses didn't do accidentally pushed and hurt a very close friend of Moses who ended up in coma. He ran away but Moses was determined to bring him to justice whilst Michael said let's give him a chance to turn himself in to the police. But in a moment of imperfection that he displayed, Moses realised Michael never had the intention of dragging the brother to the police if he didn't want to turn himself in. In fact he will help this brother of his to cover up his crime. That is only logical of course and one of the best scenes of this series that seems to perfect and then suddenly there's this very real scene. In the end the brother turned himself in.
There was also another scene that reminded me of Yue Ling and Lin Ruiyang's series For Better Or Worse (yes I am that old) where Kenix was heart broken that Michael had to leave her for Anne because of the baby. Kenix pretended to be strong but in front of her father she broke down and cried buckets. This was very much like that Yue Ling series where Yue Ling was crying how unfair all things were for her and how she could refund the "tickets" (she was referrring to the wedding) when it was already bought. I find this real and quite touching although it was very uncomfortable to see the usually steely and strong Kenix crying like there's no tomorrow. At this point the series was already much too long.
It didn't help matters when the story went that 2 sisters gotten pregnant about 1 or 2 months apart and you have them both pregnant and so you have funny moments like pregnancy and such. Nothing bad but I am just annoyed at this point because the story seems to be running out of steam and going nowhere that they had to add in pregnancy into the story so that it continues running if not there won't be any purpose to it. I even wondered at this point is there a point to this story? Sibling rivalry? How many times have the Lam family broke up, reunited, broke up and reunited again and then broke up again over the same bloody issue? It may be realistic for some but on TV that's just plain boring repetition.
But one scene redeemed the series in a way because it was realistic and because it was very well acted. That involved So and June. So found out it was June who screwed up a big contract and not Moses as she had claimed which caused the final big rift in the family that led to the youngest brother hurting Moses' very good friend. So was very angry but he calmly asked June about the situation and June still nervously blamed it on Moses. That was when So exploded and screamed at June that "It was you! You caused the rift! I always knew you were doing small things but I let it go. What have we done to you that you must do this? It is because of you that my family is falling apart ..." and there was more but sadly I can't remember the rest of it. He chased the crying June out of the office and for months never saw her again until his family and his in laws persuaded him to give her another chance because she was guilty of being foolish but she did love him and stood by him for many years. I really liked this scene because this is how one would react in the face of such betrayal. And So proved his acting metal in this scene and so did June too.
Overall I find the acting in this series very good. I must say that I find it very strange that the same youngest sister in this series, Natalie Tong who also played another young sister in Just Love and she was super annoying in there but in here she was ok and there was not much difference in her performance!
Other than that, I thought Moses improved in his performance and this is really due to the fact that he really did well in comedic moments, in fact he is very good in comedic roles but falters in dramatic moments. Falters not like suddenly really awful acting but rather awful in the sense his deadpan look with very little expressions even when he was making funny faces may be very funny in comedy situation but in dramatic moments, it was more like Botox moments and that is bad. I would have wished his eyes convey more than the deadpan eyes but again in dramatic moments, he looked unchanged except the degree of seriousness; big toothy grin to big grin to big smile to small smile to very little smile to total deadpan Botox no smile look. Kinda reminded me of Kenix's acting with her hands; rude obnoxious or career independent girl, hands move everywhere and fingers pointing everywhere with her head help really high and her eyes opened wide. Timid polite girl, limited hand and finger pointing movements, head dropped a bit low, shoulder a bit hunched and eyes back to normal state, maybe smaller a bit. I am sure you get my meaning. There are actors who let body language compliment their acting, and I really believe in body language type of acting because if not even a mannequin can act then. But in TVB there are many who may actually believe body acting as the definition of not just good acting but make that exceptional acting without incorporating that spirit of acting into voice which is very important, facial expression which comes in useful in letting the audience connect with you since in TV how you look is everything, very importantly the eyes that speak volumes that even words is not important and of course acting like the character is described to be, whether you become that character or pretend to be. Some can't go beyond that body language and stunted facial expression which is why some actors and actresses, eventhough after 10 years in the business still act badly (which is bad but you can justify it as no talent), uninspiringly (worse still for those in lead roles that you somehow cry that role can be much better in an inspired actor or actress) or now that I have grown older, I realise nothing is worse than boring acting (why worse? you know that person can do the role justice and yet there he or she goes again, same old acting which meant one brand acting for all characters, denying the writers' imagination and the wealth of the potential that viewers should have seen in that character and this is what I call character assasination). Kenix was bordering boring until some years back she found her footing again and gave interesting performances although she can be categorised into two distinct type of character performances as I have said. Better than some with just one brand acting, so I feel Kenix can do better. Moses luckily for him is not yet boring because even if he did badly or rather stunted type of acting in dramatic roles, in comedic roles, he broke out from his shell and often deliver multi faceted performance without, amazingly really changing much in his acting philosophy I suppose. I know acting is an art that even when you're about to retire you're still learning but for some it may be more like learning to act rather than learning to present the character in many different ways. Something Stephen Chow mentioned in King Of Comedy. I know there is a lack of information, time, research and opportunity to dwelve deep into a character and to present it in its full glory which begs the moot point; does talent help? What is talent anyway? If no time is an excuse, we would have very bad television all round. After watching some episodes of Journey To The West (China Version) and remembering the TVB version, I realise time may be a factor, but seriously casting the ideal person in the right role really helps. However most TVB productions is about casting the more popular one in a role that may be right for him or her if he or she is given more time to prepare for the role and unfortunately that may not be the case. I am not saying this because this bis so for this series, quite the contrary. I find the casting in this series suitable because the characters themselves are not exactly that complex or that complicated.
One actor I believe is definitely not a one brand actor or boring is Michael Tao. He is at his usual best if not a bit pretentious in the way he laughed and held the palm of his hand to his face, but I think this is his natural reaction. I think I said somewhere in here that he used to be just ok in his early career but he gottem better as he gained more perspective and maturity. Which means it is true; even if you started badly you can get better. I didn't believe this was possible before until I saw Gallen Lo's transformation from god awful to master at his trade and I realise some bad ones need to be given an opportunity for the right role. So I may cry and cry that Shirley Yeung is awful or Sonija Kwok is awful or Ron Ng is awful but who knows? With the right role, maybe they won'r be that awful.
For example, Anne Heung. Mostly awful in her series except for a notable few like Life Is Beautiful where she was actually good to some extent. In here she was ok, bearable but like in all of her series, she looked more and more haggard as the series went on and on.
Kenix I am sorry to say didn't really give much breakthrough because her character is same as most I have seen her in, except for that scene she was crying like there's no tomorrow. But that doesn't mean she was awful. In fact she was very good, especially her scenes with Moses and her reaction when she realised Moses fell for her because she reminded him of his mother! I think I have explained in detail why I think Kenix is good but not good as above.
As for Bernice, sorry to say her acting improved but just slightly. Not awful just bad. Her problem with her diction did not help. One of her good scenes though was when she was openly pretending to flirt with Moses at the bus stop to annoy a fellow residence who was super annoying but I find that scene played out too long and too comedic that it didn't fit into the series.
So Chee Wai, considering that he was a singer first then an actor did admirably well. I am saying this basing my opinion on singers who became bad actors. But then the trend nowadays is to get the actors to sing the themesong of that series and if that actor is also first and foremost a singer, that is good news for the themesong but bad news for the acting.I remember my sister saying if The Bund had been made today, it would be Angie Chiu singing the themesong instead of Francis Yip. Just imagine what a waste of a good song. And that is what TVB is doing to the good songs their writers write by asking actors who can't sing to sing and they ended up doing a karaoke version of that song. At least a song will end in maybe 5 to 10 minutes. It's very short torture. Imagine a singer who can't act? That would be 20 episodes worth of torture. And repeated also if there is a rerun. There may be some good luck that there may actually be an actor who can sing well (Flora Chan) and a singer who can act decently (Miriam Yeung).I am not asking for much. The problem arises when it is a teeny bopper series with a teeny bopper song. So we have young actors who so happens to be awful singer singing and young singers who so happens to be really awful actors acting. And who sufferes? People like you and I and also the poor scriptwriter. And who gains? TVB and the actors and singers who already have a fanbase and you have their fans admiring how good their idols are when they're in fact awful. But in these type of actors and singers' defence, there are singers who can't sing and actors who still act badly. So I guess I can't complain much since the industry is filled with either talentless nobody, talentless somebody or talented nobodies, talented somebody who is not in TV. So considering all that, I really thought So Chee Wai was decent and his scene with June Chan almost at the end of this series has my vote as the best scene.
The rest of the cast, with the exception of Paul Chun are forgettable not because their acting was awful but mostly because their characters can be killed off and nobody would either care or notice them. They're here to fill in spaces and very obviously so. With the exception of Carlos Ng who was both awful and dispensable.
Now I would like to comment a bit about Paul Chun at one end and the at the other end the young actors, Leong Lit Wai and Fred Cheng.
Paul Chun is at his usual best, but I am bored with seeing him on TV because every series he's in there and every series about fathers to daughters there he was. He is now much too exposed and I hope he will return to some dramatic roles or better yet, go for a holiday and come back later. There must be other Ah Pek actors in TVB but I hope not that monotone Ah Pek. And at the other end two young actors one of whom I was very impressed with.
Leong Lit Wai was ok, but a bit raw and with time will get good supporting roles because frankly I can't see him in leading roles unless TVB wants to be different. Fred Cheng was exceptional. He is a good looking guy, and he can act. He has that smart aleck voice with that smart aleck look which was why he was a smart aleck in here and I suppose a smart aleck in The Gentle Crackdown. If he can do away with that smart aleck voice, I believe he can take on an ever more dramatic role but I also believe he can be a comedic actor because his voice, that is smart aleck voice reminds me a lot of how Stephen Chow delivered his lines many many years before when he was at TVB. No where is he near Stephen Chow but like I once said of Myolie Wu (which turned out to be true!), with a bit of good publicity and challenging roles, I think Fred can rise up to the upper ranks in TVB unless he bums out first. Because frankly, the older ones are getting older, the middle aged ones are not as talented or have left TVB and the other young ones are somehow overshadowed by the young female artistes and the older male artistes. I am looking forward to a breakthrough role from him but I suspect he is still very young and therefore time is a good experience. They could learn from Michael Tao who started out an average actor and now made acting such an easy thing to do. Ask Gallen Lo! I may have been quite the opposite but now I am a firm believer that time is a good way to gain experience when it comes to acting if you're talentless or have little talent or is talented but not very co-ordinated. Unfortunately there are many so called big stars or on the way to big stardom in TVB that is still as awful or as talentless and therefore hopeless. Or worse still boring and stagnant. You can watch Just Love for one such performance and The Academy for even more of such performances. It is better to be out of the limelight I suppose.
And where on Earth TVB find their child actors these days? So cute, such good actors and so natural too! Where?
It takes a lot of effort to believe these group of actors are sibling from the same set of parents because they all look very different from one another. In fact none of them look even remotely like brothers and sisters which further strengthen my point; some casting decision is based on popularity and popular demands. I know it works that way but there must be other popular ones who actually look like siblings with one another. Is it too much to ask for at least consistency in the looks department? BUT I want to comment a bit about chemistry between the actors. Best is of course Kenix and her frequent partner on TV Michael Tao. In fact everybody paired with somebody had chemistry say except for Carlos Ng and everybody else. Bernice and Moses had great chemistry but I suspect it is also because they also had that spark out of camera as they were rumoured to be a couple which I believe it to be true. I may complain about what I complain below but I do feel one of the key factors that made this series bearable and sometimes even enjoyable is the chemistry of the actors.Which is really the saving grace of this series apart from Michael Tao.
All in all, not too bad a series and not that great a series either. If you're sick to death of family dramas, give this a miss. If you're yearning for a family drama, well what are you waiting for? At least this one has moments grounded in reality and some scenes that made you think twice about how you treat your siblings or how to force that lazy bum of a brother of yours to work. It is a pity that some overly comedic moments and cartoonish characters may have spoilt what is potentially a very moving family drama but the producers made a concious decision to make a light hearted family drama. If this was produced years before I would say that is a good move. But after so many series that are light hearted family drama, I kinda yearn for something 100% drama with some funny moments or 100% comedy with some dramatic moments.
I would recommend this to any fans of Kenix, Michael, Moses and the gang and also for rainy days when you have nothing to watch. For others like myself, I think it is better you save your money, NOT FOR Just Love or The Academy but just wait, there will always be something good from TVB, I hope.
The poster of this series is boring, unimaginative and bland.
Questions Asked And Answered
Why is the title so flowery?
As in Sum Fa Fong? I'd rather prefer Blossoming Hearts which I read was the meaning of the Chinese title. Well for one Michael's family deals with fake flowers. Kenix deals with flower tea. So hence flower ... I guess...why TVB so fond of themes these days? As in physical themes? Title is about flowers and everyone in the series must in some way be connected to flowers. I pity the writer having to find a connection with flowers when seriously, I do not see the importance of the flower theme to the title in this series.
So the baby really Michael's?
Did Michael know?
Yes, he overheard Kenix and Paul discussing the matter I think.
Did Anne know Michael knew?
Ermm yes because she could see from the way he was looking at the young boy and he was misty eyed when he hugged that boy.
Does the boy know Michael is his father?
Will he ever know?
To prevent their daughter in future falling for this son, I suppose maybe. You never know, these days with so many adoptions going on and so secretive also, you may end up marrying your own brother. I don't know, unless there's a sequel.
Does Anne know that Michael knows because Paul knew and so Kenix knows?
ENOUGH LAR! Everybody knows except for the boy and the man Anne married.
But when he married Anne, Anne already had a baby. So he should know right?
Yes but maybe he didn't know who's the father.
How can Michael have bought that stupid story of her borrowing someone's son as her own and then 5 years later (or maybe around that time) she came back with a son and married and that son looked way too old to be conceived by that man she married? Why? Huh? Huh?
Are you talking about Suri Cruise? It is the same logic why in The Academy some characters are underdeveloped because the series must end and the class must graduate before the series ends. So likewise if look at it logically, this series must end if not to my annoyance and many others will never ever end. So it is probably much less for dramatic value and more for the fact that the writer just wanted to end this series that we have that storyline.
I think that answers most of your "I must ask you must answer" questions.