VERY IMPORTANT NOTICE

A must read, if you don't already know ...








Written by Tb1


Steven’s performance and the imperfect, yet highly desirable well-written Ka Yeung character, are enough for me to recommend at least one viewing of this series.


SPOILERS ... SPOILERS ... SPOILERS




NOTE
This review is the first in a series of character analyses. 

02.04.2014 :  Added the first part about Poon Ka Yeung/Steven Ma

RELEASED IN
2014

NO. OF EPISODES
32 

CAST-CHARACTERS & SYNOPSIS
Please refer to Wikipedia

REVIEW
Introduction
Let me start off by declaring Storm in a Cocoon took me out of my long break from TVB and revived my interest in its series. It has been at least 12 years since I actually watched a series from start to finish without giving up somewhere in the middle. It takes a lot to sit down and start a 20-plus episode series. I can’t remember the last time a series captured my attention, interest, and thoughts like Storm in A Cocoon did with its thoughtful storytelling, characters, dialogue, scenery, costumes, and musical arrangements. However, as much praise and love I have for this series, like Funn, I can’t place this series in the unforgettable classic category because of the last two episodes. This review is the first in a series of character analyses and will not be done all in one go. With that said, it is fitting to start with the central and protagonist, Poon Ka Yeung, as he was the driver of this drama series.

Character Analysis - All About Poon Ka Yeung
Although broken into two main plots, the series connected so well through the lives and events that befell the members of the Poon family and by extension, the village. Because of this, I feel the story took a backseat and the series was anchored by the characters. The death of Poon Hau Yee set off a storm of mystery, shock, twists, and finally a resolution that made the characters more real and pushed the viewers to think, reflect, and explore their own decisions and conscience. I will not go into detail but if one to explore the decision that Poon Ka Yeung had to make when he discovered the truth about Hau Yee’s death, a sudden realization will become more obvious – that each of us, at certain points in our lives, have faced similar dilemmas and tough decisions. What’s right and wrong? Should there be compassion and forgiveness because after all, nothing can be done now to right the past, but to learn from your mistakes, move on, and improve on becoming a bette! r person? As a viewer, I was pushed to think about my own decisions that often were made swiftly without much thought.

Poon Ka Yeung does not belong in pre-modern Republican era. He is a modern man with ideals representing independence, free thought, compassion, and individualism. Unyielding to societal norms, Ka Yeung questioned the traditions that conflicted with his experience, knowledge, and beliefs he acquired while exposed to the world outside of the village. He is not rigid and stubborn either and in one scene, while discussing the traditional practices of the Poon village with his brother, Poon Ka Hin, he declared that he was not challenging them, but will not accept such ideals either. Ka Yeung is also a very rational man with a strong ability to discern the situation before each decision. The best examples of Ka Yeung’s patience can be found throughout his investigation of his sister, Hau Yee’s, death. Facing devastating revelations about the cause of her death, he remained calm and listened while his partner, Tong Bing Bing, impusively jumped to conclusions and loudly s! colded him and the suspects. If he exists today, it will not be hard to imagine Ka Yeung doing great things for a society that lacks compassion and empathy for those who need help.

While he has many great qualities, he also has flaws as evident in his compassion, which gravely affected not only himself but those around him. He indirectly caused his mentor’s death by choosing to help the reprehensible Kwan Cho Yiu. Although Ka Yeung’s unquestionable and unconditional love for Bing Bing is very honorable, his selfless act in saving her nearly cost him his life. For Ka Yeung and for many of us, compassion can be a double-edged sword. How much can one do for strangers like what Ka Yeung did for many who received his help?

The ending was a disappointment. With his memory loss, the Ka Yeung we all loved was eradicated in not one, but two knocks on the head by flood debris. Outside of adding suspense, I can’t think of a logical reason why this was done to such an endearing character. Why TVB? Perhaps a sequel, remake, or even a modern interpretation was your intention? This sudden turn of events diminished Ka Yeung and all that he represented - a highly desirable, but very real and flawed human in which we can each identify. If TVB wanted to use disappearance and amnesia to wrap things up, then surely another episode or two would’ve helped in explaining what happened to him in the four years that he was gone. At this point, I don’t even begrudge the fact that it wasn’t a conclusive happy ending for our beloved couple. I fear Ka Yeung may have become a byproduct of either careless writing or ruthless budget cutting measures at the hands of TVB and its scriptwriters. Sigh.

Performance analysis - All About Steven Ma as Poon Ka Yeung
What to say about Steven Ma that many of his fans haven’t already expressed? Funn is correct about his onscreen connection with the audience. Ah yes, the likability factor he shares with Felix Wong. Ironically, both he and Felix fell out with TVB , but Felix was more vocal and direct with his criticisms. I’ve always been indifferent to Steven and found him one-dimensional, lacking in depth and versatility. He still slurs his line, and sometimes over exaggerates. When Ka Yeung was defending Bing Bing from accusations of adultery, he was a bit over the top and screaming his lines. However, this series has officially made a fan out of me. In Ka Yeung, Steven brought earnestness, passion, and refinement. Ka Yeung’s youthful and idealistic exterior hides a man of great pain, conflict, and torture from years of witnessing countless horrific deaths as an army medic. Similarly, Steven has nearly two decades of experience in show business and has weathered much critic! isms, gossip, and tragedy, and conflicts. In his Ka Yeung, Steven undeniably gave him the honorable and heroic traits, but for the first time in his career, he actually breathed some darkness to the character. In his quiet solitary flashback moments recalling the atrocities of war, Steven expressed emotions ranging from anger to regret without an utter of word. I’d like to see more of Steven playing more complex characters like Poon Ka Yeung, a role that allowed him to turn in the best acting performance thus far in his career.

Steven has amazing chemistry with Tavia. I wonder how many times they laughed together each time they share intimate scenes in this series. There were so many romantic moments, though subtle and not obvious, lends much greater realism – from handholding, eye contact, hugging, smiles, a small kiss on the hand, and dialogue – a lot of attention was given. As a viewer, you can see the natural body language both Steven and Tavia have in real life through their interviews, which explains the ease that both have when sharing the screen together. One scene, although without a kiss or gratuitous display of affection in sight, accurately depicts the love and realness of a married couple. It was in the kitchen and Bing Bing’s face was covered by hot steam in front of the boiling pot of soup. Ka Yeung made himself comfortable, wrapped his arms around her waist, placed his head on her shoulders, and observed that she had lost weight. Tavia didn’t flinch or was surprised ! at all with the very close contact. Steven didn’t appear apprehensive or awkward either. I can’t say the same for most other actors coupled in other series, except maybe when Steven shares the screen with Fala or Linda. I agree with Funn that they each bring the best acting in the other. And yes, I think we all would be ecstatic to see any of the three “sisters” married to Steven. They all have fondness and love for him.

Steven’s performance and the imperfect, yet highly desirable well-written Ka Yeung character, are enough for me to recommend at least one viewing of this series. Maybe, skip the last two episodes to save you from the subsequent disappointment and questions at the end.

VERDICT
A must watch!

7 comments:

  1. buzz4.4.14

    "Tavia didn’t flinch or was surprised ! at all with the very close contact."
    Sorry, i just had to laugh at this comment. The reason she didn't flinch is becos this was already expected by her prior to the actual take, so nothing big deal, not worth a mention actually.

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  2. buzz4.4.14

    "Tavia didn’t flinch or was surprised ! at all with the very close contact."
    Sorry, i just had to laugh at this comment. The reason she didn't flinch is becos this was already expected by her prior to the actual take, so nothing big deal, not worth a mention actually.

    p/s i apologise if you're getting multiple posts but i'm not sure if my comment was submitted.

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  3. You're absolutely right. Of course, she can't show the flinching if there were any. I was trying to convey the awkwardness or "space" you usually see between two actors on screen when sharing an intimate moment.

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  4. Anonymous4.4.14

    That was one of my favorite scenes! Steven and Tavia were so at ease with each other, I got goosebumps watching that scene.

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  5. I agree that to be so ease with one another is either both are familiar with one another or are good actors. See Aimee chan for awkwardness

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  6. buzz7.4.14

    I rmbr there was a scene in Outbound Love where she spilled some durian soup on her thighs and Ruco instinctively wiped it down with his hands (2 or 3 times!!) and she didn't flinch either!

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  7. Buss, it was very fast and she didn't have much time to react. It was a natural action but she looked very uncomfortable throughout. Perhaps her relationship with Moses changed her, she was much at ease with intimacy in Ruse of Engagement.

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