"I haven’t been this exasperated with a series' ending since Wong Hei’s character died in Burning Flame II."
SPOILERS ... SPOILERS ... SPOILERS
“Tak Wai Hang Dong” (roughly translates to sudden action)
No. of episodes
Steven Ma Jun Wai as Jee Ko (Ken)
Ron Ng Cheuk Hei as Tong Yat Jun (Leo)
Bernice Liu Bik Yee as Wing
Kate Tsui Tze San as Yan Heung Ching
Shirley Yeung See Kei as Ka Yee
Michelle Mai Suet as Song Kum Jee
Kwok Ngoi as Tong Jeen
Vin Choi as Tong Yat Chiu
Steven Wong as Tong Yat Long
Yoyo Chen as Man (step-sister to Ken)
Ha Yu as Ken’s father
Mary Hon Ma Lei as Ken’s step-mother
Kenneth Ma Kwok Ming as Yan Heung Ming
June Chan as Madam
The Brink of Law is one strangely written series. Every time I wanted to give up on it, the series comes up with something that keeps me watching. Why do you do this to me, TVB? On another note, this series also boasts some of the most peculiar, attempt-a-breakthrough casting decisions ever. Bernice Liu as a mature undercover cop? Shirley Yeung and Michelle Yim as villains?! Ron Ng as a calm and rational professional? What the hell?!
The storyline of this series is full of shock value. Ken’s father dies from jumping off a roof of a building by the third episode, followed by Ming dying after being attacked by robbers hired by Kum Jee, and Ching nearly gets raped for Chiu’s revenge. By the tenth episode, I braced myself for more shocking plot turns.
The whole series revolves around trying to unearth evidence to incriminate the Tong heads of house, who are involved in drug and weapons trafficking. Plenty of people get caught in the web, half being unfortunate souls (see below). The only relationship with a happy ending in this series is that between Ken and Wing – everyone else either dies or is left all alone.
Evaluation of Cast and Characters
I am in love with the character of Jun …he is The Perfect Man. Moral, professional, and compassionate with a steadfast loyalty to his loved ones. Too bad I can’t say the same for the actor who plays him. I know I said in my RDOV review that I wanted Ron to break out of the characters he’s known for playing, but such a drastic change was a bit hard for me to take at first. Ron Ng as a gentleman – are you kidding me? His performance here is interesting simply because his character is such a morally sound, honest, loyal and good man. Ron is not a good enough actor to take on a role like this. There is a delicate balance within Leo: he is rich and educated, but by no means a spoiled brat, and he is a good man to the core, despite being surrounded by a bunch of no-good, criminal relatives. Ron Ng surprisingly looks enough like a professional in his glasses, vet uniform, and business suits, but his emotional scenes still need more work… for some reason, he can’t cry or tear onscreen. Steven Ma can, Raymond Lam can, but this guy just can’t. However, this is one of Ron’s better performances – in fact, the best since he burst onto the scene with Triumph in the Skies. I’d say this guy is improving, but at a snail’s pace.
A credible and likable actor but by no means does he belong in the Big Brother ranks. He’s one of the few TVB actors who can do both modern and ancient dramas, which increases his versatility, but I never find him that compelling. I quite like his performance in here as he embodies Ken well, but everything needs just a bit more of that extra something.
The most recent TVB starlet to be thrown into a singing career, and the girl can sing. Problem is, she sings (and acts) without a soul. Bernice’s performances and acting here is fluffy and just scrapes the surface. This character gave her an opportunity to show an extra something beyond the great face/body, but unfortunately she didn’t quite rise to the occasion. She is still TVB’s most gorgeous young actress though.
I had a field day watching her in this role. She’s such a god-awful actress but also such a sweet girl in real life that watching her as a villain was more hilarious than compelling. And this is her first villain role despite being in every single TVB series for the past 5 years. Shirley manages to avoid the cartoonish demeanor many actors give to villains (Shek Sau is an excellent example) and even gives the manipulative Ka Yee her own sinister air. This is definitely the best performance out of her entire repertoire, but really – how much does that say? When something is the best out of a bunch of garbage, it still makes it pretty close to garbage. And to think the powers that be gave her the 2006 Best Supporting Actress Award. I remember how horrified I was watching her give her acceptance speech, and since then vowed to boycott the TVB awards. Ugh!
I read in shock somewhere that online voters voted this girl as the worst actress of TVB. What? Are you all blind to Shirley Yeung, Sonija Kwok, Anne Heung, Toby Leung, and Mandy Chung? Anyway. Kate is my favourite newcomer since Nancy Wu and she has improved from La Femme Desperado. She is young, fresh, adorable, and energetic as the spunky, independent Ching and I loved her performance. I’d like to see her in a more feminine, subtle role to see what her versatility is like though. Her chemistry with Ron is inconsistent; they look like a cute couple, but in some scenes they seem like they barely know each other (especially the earlier ones). I blame the writers. One more thing I’d like to say to the TVB makeup department: Stop loading this girl’s lips with lip gloss, it’s way too thick.
Terrible. What is with TVB picking the worst actors for the older roles? First Chung King Fai as the slow-talking Yim patriach in The Dance of Passion, and now this guy who is about as interesting as burnt toast. Damien Lau, Adam Cheng, John Chiang – the list of gifted older actors goes on and on. Why this guy?!
The younger actors deliver some surprisingly good acting as the supporting cast. Vin Choi is believable as the spoiled brat, and Steven Wong makes a very good sympathetic and filial Long, but the one shocker was the never-seen-before Yoyo Chen as Ken’s younger sister, who was magnificent.
A Cringe-Worthy Moment
A line from Long: “Ching makes a good PONT”. It’s POINT. P-O-I-N-T. Pronounced like “poy-nt”. Stop making your non-fluent actors speak English, TVB!
Things That Make You Go “Huh”?
1. Now how on earth did Long turn out the way he did? With criminal parents that don’t have even one ounce of decency in them, Long turned out to be filial, loyal, honest and morally sound. Strange.
2. How could Jun’s mother just leave like that? Even given her traumatic experience, she just left without a word and even had the nerve to come back to ask her rapist for money. Hilarious.
3. The whole first half of the series. This is a major pacing problem with the script. The actual theme of this series (trying to nail the Tong heads of house) doesn’t start to pick up until the last third of the series.
What an Ending
I haven’t been this exasperated with a series' ending since Wong Hei’s character died in Burning Flame II. Why on god’s green earth did the writers kill off Jun?! How could you? I hate you all! Bah!!!
That unfortunate ending aside, I have to say the conclusion of this series reeks of poetic justice. Mr. Tong dies, totally unrepentant. Mrs. Tong goes nuts, spending the remainder of her days in a mental institute. The crippled Long commits suicide upon discovering that Mommy and Daddy aren’t such nice people, and irony of ironies, the b_tchy Ka Yee is paralyzed after being caught in the Tong-police shootout. All these justified endings did nothing to redeem my rage about Jun dying, though.
To Watch of Not to Watch, That is the Question
Despite the major pacing problems, the characters are real in their flaws and qualities, and the actors take on some unimaginable roles given their previous repetoire. The storyline has some nice tense moments and this series is entertaining but it definitely falls short of the ‘classic’ status.