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Written by Funn Lim


"I have no idea how to describe this series other than it is really a series about nothing in particular and since it is nothing in particular, nothing IS particular in this series."


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SPOILERS ... SPOILERS ... SPOILERS


Released In
2007

No. Of Episodes
20

Cast-Character
Steven Ma - Ching Ka-Chun
Bernice Liu - Lee Sum-Ying (Samantha)
Wayne Lai - Lee Lik-Keung
Claire Yiu - Yau Lam-Lam (Donna)
Kate Tsui - Yeung Sze-Man (Victoria)
Matthew Ko - Mai Dik-Sang (Dickson)
Fala Chen - Ching Ka-Man (Carmen)
Stephen Huynh - Cho Wah-Lun (Wallace)
Mannor Chan - Ching Dik Bo-Bo (Bobo)
Samuel Kwok - Yeung Hon-To (Tom)
Wu Fung - Yeung Sing (Patrick)
Stephen Wong - Yau Shang-Tat
Kok Fung - Mr Yeung

Summary
Taken from Wikipedia

Full spoilers!

Dance lover Lee Sum-Ying (Bernice Liu) is going to audition for a place in the Hong Kong Dance Company. Before the audition starts, she bumps into her brother Lee Lik-Keung (Wayne Lai) and his colleague Ching Ka-Tsun (Steven Ma) at a supermarket, where she is accidentally run over by Tsun’s trolley and hurts herself. Due to her arm injury, Ying does not perform well in the audition and fails the assessment. At the invitation of Tsun’s mother, Ying goes to teach Latin dance at a local community center, in the hope that she can save up enough money for further studies abroad. Ying has a very warm personality and is well-liked by many of her students. Her popularity eventually lands her a teaching job at a dance workshop, which makes another dance tutor and Tsun's younger sister, Ching Ka-Man (Fala Chen), incredibly jealous. Man dislikes Ying so much that she means to make things difficult for her in every possible way.

Yeung Sze-Man (Kate Tsui), the daughter of Tsun’s boss, is appointed to take charge of the company. In order to improve staff morale, Man has announced a series of reforms. She needs her staff to learn dancing so that they can get more physical exercise. Ying is hired as the dance teacher of Tsun and his colleagues. Tsun, who has some knowledge in dancing, has soon resumed his interest in this expressive form of art. Ying and Tsun have gradually developed a close bond with each other and even decided to take part in an international dance competition as partners, but the pair’s relationship is put to the test when Tsun and Keung later fall out over business matters. The discord between the two men has put Ying in dilemma.

Not long after, one of the employees, who has worked at the company for long time until being fired by Sze-Man, told her father about the reforms and his being fired. As a result, Sze-Man was relieved of her duties. Sze Man's life took a turn for the worse when she found out that her boyfriend Dickson has married already. After some time, they broke up. But during the relationship, Keung's brother-in-law has a crush on her but didn't know how to say it to her.

Meanwhile, Keung and Tsun were still mad at each other. This makes Ying and Tsun's relationship difficult. But when they found out about the fired employee's plan to take over the company, they worked together to bring him down. In the end, they got along. However, Sum-Ying's eyes were damaged due to a previous injury and had to take surgery.

Before the surgery even began, she was set to be in a dance competition with Tsun as her partner. But during this time, Ka-Man was as angry as ever with Ying for two reasons. One: Ying "takes" Ka-Man's spot in the company commercial. Two: She thinks her mother thinks Ying dances better than her. After an altercation with her brother Tsun and her mother (by which it ends with Tsun slapping her in the face for pushing their mom), Ka-Man leaves the home.

When they found Ka-Man, they also found out that she is the student of her mother's rival, who has a dislike against her. The mother and rival started dancing to see who is better, but the rival intentionally stepped on Tsun's mother's leg, making her unable to dance forever. Tsun and Ying enters the competition to not only avenge Tsun's mother, but also to help Ka-Man.

At the competition, Ying and Tsun enter the competition along with Ka-Man to advance to the finals. The rival however has ordered her to use damaging dance moves to kick them out of the competition. The incentive of this, however, is to see her rival suffer with a family spat. But Ka-Man, seeing that Ying is injured, relents. When the rival disowns her as her pupil, Ka-Man accidentally pushes her down (actually if you watch carefully, Ka-Man didnn't push her down but the rival just trip over herself anyway) the rival's leg was damaged. As a result, Ka-Man was sent to jail, but Tsun and Ying forgive her.

Some time later, the company held a party. During that time, Tsun (with the help of Keung, Sze-Man and the others) proposes to Ying and she accepts. The series ends with everyone dancing to Papa Loves Mambo.

Comments
I watched this series intermittently, never quite paid any attention except whenever I see Wayne Lai and Steven Ma together, to which they make a great couple .. I mean friends. They played off each other well and quite frankly without them, this series isn't really happening.

You know when someone says "It's not happening" it doesn't mean something is expected but nothing seems to come out of that expectation. It just means it isn't happening. Like nothing is really going on at all. This series is a series with a theme, that is dancing or rather Latin dancing or to be more precise Latin and Ballroom dancing. The trouble is it doesn't have a story that fits the theme. I don't see the connection between a herbal drink company and dancing and as the series went on, the writers themselves seem to struggle with the connection. In the end it is a 2 story within 1 series; one part is about dancing and the competition and the other is the herbal drink company and the power struggle. No not those crush you I shall power struggle but briefly there is some get out of my way power struggle. Throw in love, friendship, family and rivalry, what you have with this series is a story with so many branches from its theme that none of them ever really do well at all. It is by no means an awful series or those over the top type like a certain series about car manufacturing but in the end as I finished the series I kinda realised this is one example of a series that really has no story. It throws everything in the hopes of having one but it comes off as touch and go, more go than touch if you ask me. It goes on for some time and once it hits 20 episodes, that was the end. The beginning and the end doesn't quite match and although the dancing is a theme, in the end it seems more like a gimmick; you know something different but totally irrelevant to the story. This is a series you will either enjoy or find it terribly boring and without a purpose. I didn't think it was boring, I just thought it was weird, in a non-purpose way like I am watching a series that is filmed as I was watching it. However I must admit somewhere in the middle I find it very very dull.

The problem is like I said without a purpose this series had to hit out on something just so to move the story along. From the beginning we are shown the close friendship between Chun and Keung and then suddenly they quarrelled and their friendship put to the test for most of the story. It became quite irritating to watch how Keung would insult Chun and Chun not doing anything much although it is fun to hear how many names can you call someone you think betrayed you. Keung at least had a dozen such names for Chun. And quite as sudden they patched things up towards the end.

The love stories are also quite sudden. Sum Ying didn't quite the more flamboyant Chun at first but suddenly she was really in love with him, so much so she pursued him. Actually that was the funny part and quite as sudden they shared a kiss and then they were a couple. The same for Sze Man and Dickson pairing and in some ways Donna and Keung, which I failed to see at first why Keung liked Donna so much. The pairings in this series is pretty much that's it. Not much love lost except for Sze Man and Dickson where they broke up so that Tat can pursue her. Rather predictable stuff.

Then there was the rivalry of this series; between Carmen and Sum Ying. Carmen hated Sum Ying with a passion because she felt her own mother a dance instructor favoured Sum Ying more than her. There was no rhyme nor reason, no background story, she just hates the sight of Sum Ying. As is typical of all such rivalry story, Sum Ying meant well but inadvertently took Carmen's place as Spokesperson for Hei Yeung Yeung, the company owned by Sze Man's dad. I kinda enjoyed the cat fight eventhough it was all very silly, especially how the mother meekly accepted the daughter's unreasonableness and didn't quite just well, slap that Carmen to stop bullying Sum Ying. The truth is there isn't any rivalry since Sum Ying is such a nice girl she really meant well. Somewhere along the way Carmen made a huge mistake to which she learned her lesson and quite suddenly became a nice girl, eventhough there is still some jealousy in her. And towards the end suddenly she teamed up with a dance instructor from hell (hell for me because she was such an awful actress although I suspect she is dancer first, actor second) and became bitchy again. But she learned her lesson again and went to jail. You may ask why she went to jail? She went to jail for NOT pushing that hellish dance instructor who ACCIDENTALLY fell and I suppose broke her leg. Where is the crime element? Why is she even in jail? One conclusion is in HK there are no lawyers and everybody confess to crimes to which aren't crimes in the first place. At this point the series turned stupid but luckily it was already the last episode. Anything beyond I am afraid it could become moronic.

As you can read what I wrote above, you can sense that this series doesn't have much to the story. There is no true villain, no true redemption, no true heart stopping moment. Even when Sum Ying got knocked by a car, she fainted during competition, etc I knew she would be fine. This series isn't about tragedy. It isn't about intriguing love since everybody settled nicely with everybody else. It isn't about business rivalry also.

You see one interesting segment had Sze Man trying to strike out in her own herbal soup business because daddy refused to change his traditional over conservative business strategy and I thought finally, something exciting. But halfway through Sze Man was defeated in her attempts by an absconding partner, not by daddy and they patched things up!

So what's next? Before that there was the story of a bribe taking director in the company very trusted by the father. When Sze Man tookover she investigated him and forced him to retire. He went to a rival company and the father mistaking Sze Man as being prejudiced and incompetent in her decision making ability believed the errant director and so the relationship between Sze Man and the father worsened. And then? Well the errant director tried to cause chaos through his lover who was spying on his behalf in the company. And then in a rather good scene where his employer wanted Chun to work for him and Chun refused to consider since he didn't want to be in the same company as the errant director. The company investigated and discovered lost money and so fired the errant director. Errant director got drunk, tried to rundown Chun (but knocked Sum Ying instead), ended up in hospital and then ... well nothing. The lover continued to work there until she unwisely tried to seduce the boss and got fired and tried to persuade Sze Man to give her her job back and then ... well nothing. You see the trend? A story starts, goes on and abruptly ended.

All these just seems to show that the writer or director or whoever seems at lost with the material given to them. They didn't know what to do with it or maybe the script was just plain awful and badly written. A pity since we have a few capable actors in this series that somehow held it together. Like I said, I like Wayne Lai and Steven Ma and they were the reasons why my eyes were glued to the TV even if as I watched the series I realise and I shall repeat again, this series is really about nothing.

And so the dancing. Bernice did most of the dancing with Steven Ma trying to strut some moves and failing spectacularly and Fala Chen doing the 2nd most dancing although she stopped midway. Fala has the body of a dance, Bernice is a bit bulky eventhough she looks healthy and strong. Both were graceful I must admit, the problem is neither can convince me they're dancers, more so Latin or ballroom dancers. Worse of course was Mannor Chan (is that really her name? Mannor?) who is supposedly the expert here but when she did dance in the end in the dance-off with hellish dance instructor, you could see she can't dance at all, or at least not ballroom or latin dance. Of course you might say they did reasonably well since they're actors, not dancers. But not in a competition with a real pair of dancer where you get no. 3 overall. You must convince. Bernice as Bernice was good but Bernice as Sum Ying was awful. Earlier on she demonstrated I think the 5 Latin dances, Cha-Cha-Cha, Paso Doble , jive and the other 2 I can't remember. Samba, ramba, mamba, 2 of these 3. She did show some differences but not very clearly. I know the lack of time sometimes just made the actors look bad but you know, I am just not convinced. In the end the entire series seems stuck in cha-cha-cha dancing routine and nothing else. The dancing was ultimately boring, un-inventive, no passion and for a series built on the theme of dancing, I don't see any of them dancing with passion, sweat or vigour.


Of course someone suggested the actors danced the best they could, they're good enough. Let me ask you this; if in a kissing scene they have to kiss for real, in a bed scene they have to roll around on the bed feigning passion and looks real (well as real as any TVB actor can act out on prime time TV), shouldn't the same attitude be applied to dancing scenes? If sex has to be feigned to be so real or piano playing or sports playing or even a death scene had to be authentic with blood and gore, how come the same principle is not applied to the dancing aspect? Of course they did the best they could but was it good enough? Was it convincing enough to win competitions, join Olympics, open dance studios, etc? Which is why it is very important to find a suitable actor who knows how to dance and hopefully can act as well. Maybe those who are trained. I am not sure if Bernice is a trained dancer but she does not strike me as a trained or even have learned ballroom or latin dancing. These two dancing, especially the latter does not only involve swaying your hips left and right in dramatic fashion as demonstrated by the actors in this series. Moreover, the whole choreography was just boring. If you could catch an episode of Dancing With The Stars you will see what I mean. I don't even see sweat.

But none is worse than the so called dirty tactics, how Carmen tried to kick high and low at Sum Ying as she danced with her partner in a competition. Or those stupid tactics like using the elbow to punch your rivals, etc on the dancing floor. And Carmen even got I think no. 3 or no. 4. She wasn't last I tell you. I was like you mean the dance judges are all blind? Stupid? Incompetent? Carmen should have been kicked out of competition or at the very least penalised when she went off dancing on her own leaving her partner exasperated. It is moments like these that kills the series' credibility. Then there was the showdown between the mother (Mannor) and the evil teacher who is teaching everything wrong to Carmen. It was laughable, because it was very obvious one can dance, the other can't. And the so called showdown looked more like a warm up to an exercise routine that never happened. And I simply must not forget to mention the good bye dance between Sze Man and Dickson. Sze Man broke the relationship when she realised Dickson's ex wife and sick child needed him more and he still cared for the ex wife and next scene, there they were, in the middle of the grass I think and did some latin moves and all, with Sze Man over pouting her lips and over flinging her short hair and Dickson looking glum. And then she left. A bit too Bollywood for me. Simply put, the dancing was terrible across the board.

So the acting must compensate for the lack of good dancing. Sorry to say, the acting were mostly average with an exceptional few.

The exceptional few is of course Steven Ma and Wayne Lai who both shares great chemistry together, more so when they were fighting and not together. I am particularly impressed with Steven Ma, who since what was that series where he played a bodyguard in the ancient series? Anyway since then he seems like a new man, who exudes charm, likeable and most of all, come good acting chops. He also sounds less breathless and could complete a sentence without sounding a need to breath for a while. And it took me a moment to realise Wayne Lai was also in the same series! Ah Wayne Lai, that man can do any everyday man role and in here he is hands down the best although his character seems petty after a while since the rivalry went on far too long. But it was funny seeing him in dream sequences wearing hideous looking costume and dancing. He can't dance but he sure can act.



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Kok Fung as usual is great, and he can do comedy, especially this character that is essentially a nice boss and a great father but is strangling his daughter's creativity by being terribly old fashioned.

The young 3 guys who plays Dickson, Wallace and Tat are 3 different varying degrees of bad acting. The worst is Wallace played by Stephen Huynh who simply has the worst performance for the least amount of screen time. Matthew Ko as Dickson looked way to suffering and too serious for me to like him, more so he shares zero chemistry with Kate Tsui who looks far more masculine than him. Tat played by Stephen Wong is bearable but next to acting god like Wayne Lai, he was obviously lacking and next to charming Steven Ma, he lacked that likeable factor that would make him different and refreshing. All 3 guys are I also believe either dark or deeply tanned. Same hair colour too?

The girls seems to share same hair dye that for sure. Bernice Liu will always be Bernice Liu. She will always talk funny, she will always look very pretty and her acting will always be wooden. In here she has the added responsibility of dancing and she has to be an expert at that. Sadly, her dancing is worst than her acting but for once, her acting is not terrible but still wooden. Whilst outwardly she doesn't seem to have any chemistry with Steven Ma, but somehow I feel convinced by their togetherness. I find both of them cute together and her best moments are always either with Wayne Lai or Steven Ma, especially when Wayne's character forbade her to see Steven's character again and I can tell you, possibly her best acting moment has to be those exasperated faces and her unnaturally fluent delivery of her lines. Is this Bernice's best performance? I don't think so. I don't think she has any best performance and for me I am still waiting for that moment where I bite my tongue and give up saying she's awful. She is however such a sunshine especially when she smiles and easily is the TVB actress with the most sunshine smile and personality. Her figure is in awesome shape and she looks healthy and pretty. What I don't get though why her character seems so fond of looking dowdy most of the time with her hair tied back and wrapped in layers of clothes with that sling back always by her side, no matter where she goes, what she does or where she is even in her own house. What's with the obsession with holding on to handbags in TVB series anyway?

Kate Tsui impressed me the most in here. You see in all her previous performances she was either ok or awful, and one common thread is she always is crazy ok or crazy awful. There is something unsettling about this actress and when I say unsettling, what I mean is she always gives me this impression she is born to play a crazy person. She looks like capable of being crazy in a moment's notice. And her hair always seems wet and to tell you the truth, I thought she was over pouting her already pouty lips a bit. So yes I find her scary and I am waiting for the day to see her in a drama as a mental patient. And I mean really mental patient. In here, she plays a soft spoken lady like but ambitious and intelligent Sze Man. I thought her performance was really good until the writer decided to basically write off her character by making her overly ambitious and useless without her father. It would be nice to see her work somewhere else and make her own name and return to bask in her own glory but for whatever reason, maybe running out of ideas, deviating from the core story or running out of episodes, her character suffers from her own confidence and fell down really hard. I just thought Sze Man would be far too cool to make such mistakes you know? Her pairing with that Dickson guy was terrible and I suppose her pairing with any other young guys in the series will be terrible. Playing Bernice's best friend would be a stretch of imagination since Kate looks far younger but I do like their scenes together. I like it when she plays serious, donning her glasses and giving business instructions because she is convincing as a career woman and so she could play a professional as well, if smartly written. However even in those scenes there is something unstable about her, like she is trying very hard to be serious when her mental self is trying to break out. I tell you, TVB take note of her when casting a mental patient. She is it.

Claire Yiu who plays Lum Lum was ok eventhough I can't see why Keung was so crazy about her in the first place.

I am watching Ultimate Crime Fighter now and Fala Chen is not who she is in that series when she is in this series. Her cantonese is of course more bended then Bernice, skinnier but I thought in Ultimate Crime Fighter she improved much and acted better. But then that character is a walk in the park for any actress, totally unchallenging and way too easy. The character Carmen is far complex. Spoilt brat is how I see her, unnecessarily competetive and ultimately an idiot, her ending though is totally unjustified. Her acting however was terrible. She looks bitchy but she plays nice I wasn't convinced, so maybe it is in her interpretation Carmen was never nice though she tried. I just realised perhaps why she was awful is because her character was so badly written that she has no purpose. Villain? Not quite. Dancing foe? Not quite. Romance? None. Rivalry? Maybe. Family drama? What drama? Her Carmen is just like a filler character, no impact and no purpose. Her ending was awful and the series' worst moment.

Akina Hong, I really do pity you. She is actually I think classically trained as a dancer but her talent is underused in here. She is pretty, but is relegated to the role of that sneaky secretary who is having affair with the boss. And that is her role. She should have been given a better role because she can act very well. Although I was tired with her character, I feel she is one of the bright sparks in this otherwise pointless and dreary series. I really really do pity her.

The worst acting across the board belongs to the evil teacher. Don't know her name, but she is tall and has a dance physique but unfortunately can't act to save her life. I was particularly annoyed with her sneering mouth.

I must note though; all the girls have killer bodies with Bernice winning the best body. She and Fala Chen had to squeeze into tiny dancing costumes and I can tell, back and front profile, male fans will be the ones to appreciate the awful dancing scenes because you get an eyeful.

Verdict
A pointless series I suppose to fill in the voids left by big productions series or those personal intimate ones. From the start the plot was going nowhere and eventhough dancing was the central theme, somehow the herbal drinks company theme tookover leaving the dancing theme rather weak. I have no idea how to describe this series other than it is really a series about nothing in particular and since it is nothing in particular, nothing IS particular in this series. The love stories were not complicated and was straight forward, the rivalry was childish and badly written, the competition reminded me why TVB should never do mock competition and the business aspect died its own death somewhere along the way. Except for fans of the actors in the series or for those wanting to admire the beautiful bodies of Bernice and Fala, sorry to Wayne Lai and Steven Ma, I can't bring myself to recommend this series.



2 comments:

  1. "But she learned her lesson again and went to jail. You may ask why she went to jail? She went to jail for NOT pushing that hellish dance instructor who ACCIDENTALLY fell and I suppose broke her leg. Where is the crime element? Why is she even in jail? One conclusion is in HK there are no lawyers and everybody confess to crimes to which aren't crimes in the first place. At this point the series turned stupid but luckily it was already the last episode. Anything beyond I am afraid it could become moronic."

    Agree with you this part is totally moronic. There was not crime here. The dance instructor accidentally fell down herself and Carmen went to jail for that? Stupid.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Funn!

    Good review, totally agreed with you on Steps.

    LOL, only thing is, I don't think Kate looked more masculine than Matthew. I actually think she's one of the few TVB actresses who can rock a short haircut and still look feminine. Maybe it's just that Matthew looks wimp-ish. :)

    I've got quite a few new reviews that I'm finishing up - will send them to you over the next few days.

    Lastly - a very HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR to you!

    ReplyDelete

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