Sunday, 31 July 2016

Presumed Accidents - 纯熟意外TVB Review

Hello everyone,

Hope you have been enjoying the summer so far wherever you are! It has again been a while since we have done a review because we just haven't had much to write about. The dramas these days are watch-able but nothing too interesting. With that said, we have recently opened a MyDramaList account here so click the link and see what we are watching lately and tell us if you've got any suggestions!

Today, we are bringing you a post of the TVB drama, Presumed Accidents, which finished airing on July 3rd. It is about a month late and House of Spirits and Between Love and Desire is done its broadcast as well! Oh well! This review will include our thoughts and opinions of the drama as usual.




Basic Overview: Presumed Accidents is a modern mystery and suspense drama starring Lawrence Ng (吳啟華), Sisley Choi (蔡思貝), Selena Li (李施嬅) Lai Lok-yi (黎諾懿), Raymond Cho (曹永廉 ) and Joyce Tang (滕麗名). George Kiu (Lawrence Ng) has a mysterious life and runs a Cafe while selling antiques. It turns out that he is from the Yuan Dynasty where he ate a life elixir pill and is living until present day. He then meets Eunice Yan (Sisley Choi) and together they solve a lot of insurance cases and Sisley has hopes that they may one day be together romantically. Then she finds out that he turns out to be her real father and that the parents she knew were planned and put by her side because of George. She starts to hold a grudge on George and goes to Mantus Cheuk (Chris Lai) for help and develops a romantic relationship with him. However, more mysterious cases are coming up and they seem to be from the same mastermind. Later on, a woman that resembles George's late wife (Selena Li) comes into the scene and adds to the complications between George and Eunice's relationship.

Character/Acting Reviews:

Lawrence Ng as George Kiu (for the most part): Well it has sure been a while since we have seen Lawrence on screen ever since THC 2! Both of us haven't seen his old dramas either so we actually don't really have an opinion of Lawrence to begin with. We have heard about his villain roles back then and how he looks a lot better nowadays. This role was an interesting one because we are introduced to him first dreaming about himself in ancient attire being on top of a pile of corpses. Having just seen Blue Veins, we were looking at each other thinking... OH NO, not the immortal people again. What's with this recurring theme at TVB? SPOILER ALERT: yup... he is an immortal who apparently ate a ball that allowed him to live forever... wow.
At first his relationship with Brian (B zai) played by Chow Chung resembled the relationship between Batman and his butler Alfred in The Dark Knight movies. What else could we suspect when he has self healing powers and an old man waiting for him at home that knows everything about him. George is also mysteriously rich like Batman so we couldn't help but draw that connection. However... much to our surprise, B Zai turns out to be George's adopted son that keeps aging while George never grew old. This was one of the best relationships in the drama thanks to Chow Chung's quirky acting as B Zai and as for Lawrence Ng, he just played his part well and reserved. Yes, reserved is what we think of his performance this time. While he went all out when protecting Sisley Choi's character Eunice Yan, with other characters he said what needed to be said and listened when he should have. It was nothing more and nothing less and in that way, we have no complaints of his performance. In fact, if he had chosen to go any more with his facial expressions, it would have been too fake for someone who has seen the centuries of hardships that many in Hong Kong will not experience today. In saying that, we mean that he must have weathered through many wars and conflicts without the use of modern technology. This experience helps him a lot in the insurance cases that happen in the drama and he often looks at cases with a quizzical eye. Overall the character and the performance are pretty good for the standards these days if you ignore all the technical aspects of how he's self healing and all that. Also if you ignore the slight errors and the sheer impossibility of some things (in which TVB scriptwriters always have), his character is well written for the most part for conveying his difficulties as an immortal. Well done to Lawrence for pulling off another one of TVB's cliché characters with an immortal twist.

Sisley Choi as Eunice Yan: Not going to lie, Sisley was the main reason why we were skeptical about watching this drama because we have seen her lacklusture and screeching performances way too many times to be bothered again by her overboard acting. However, this time she really surprised us. Like many netizens who have complimented her improvement in this drama, we also think that she has improved lots. She has learned to control her voice and although some may think letting go of your voice means emotion and passion, Sisley shows that you can tone it down and bring more feeling to the character. The background story of Eunice is a tragic one, with her parents being taken away from her on the day of her convocation in England. Later we find out that the whole thing was a plan of George's and it makes Eunice even more confused and angry as to what she should do with her awkward relationship with George now. We had no complaints or any cringe moments for Sisley throughout this rocky part of the drama. Sometimes it would get annoying in the office when they were both given the same case. Quick note about Sisley and the cases, we do have a growing concern that these TVB actors are soon taking over the job of superheroes as their characters solve all cases with a iron shielded body to protect them from car crashes and near fatal gunshots. Anyways, her relationship with Chris Lai's Mantus is somewhat missing though. TVB has never been great at creating romantic storylines or relationships because the two main leads or whatever usually just learn about each other's feelings towards the last two episodes... no development whatsoever, gotta go over to kdramas if you are looking for a good romance. We both found that they were not giving their fullest or something was missing even in their sweet uni days. Of course, afterwards we find out that he was just using her the whole time but they didn't have much chemistry. Overall this was her best performance to date but she still has a long way to go.

Chris Lai as Mantus (Praying Mantis? What name is Mantus? We have never heard of it and don't think it's a popular name...) Cheuk: This is his first major role since his break from Come Home Love which has been airing since 2011 or something! We were very excited to see him in a different role after being stuck with Ma Zhong for many years however, we were a little disappointed with this role. It provided very little development as to why he got so evil to create so many false accidents and he just suddenly turned super, super evil in the end. This is a recurring flaw in TVB's scriptwriting for endings. They always have dramatic and unrealistic endings that are caused by the least likely character who suddenly becomes murderous or something like that. An example of this is Short End of the Stick with some weird rebel group ruining the family and stuff like that! TVB needs to learn to write better endings! This one was not one bit better with the late addition of Selena Li's Faye character being entangled with Mantus and how she suddenly turns good and goes against her. The ending with Mantus was way too rushed because he only came in around episode 9. Chris Lai aced with what was in the script so maybe it isn't all his fault but since he's out of CHL, TVB should really create some better roles for him with a legitimate character and female counterparts that can spark some chemistry with him. Overall, he was wasted in a bad role.

Selena Li as the Princess Yuet Ngai, Chong Wing-Yi, and Faye Lin: As much as we wanted to love Selena Li's three roles, we had a hard time seeing them enough to know the characters on screen. The Princess role we thought was played by Sisley until they finally revealed who she was. There wasn't much to her story so no comments there. For Selena as Chong Wing-Yi, her performance was adequate but there isn't much to say either. But her role, Faye Lin is where we have some comments! We thought her storyline was a bit forced and that it was hard watching her act as the tragic Faye because she was just being used by Mantus and her background story also detracted from the main insurance cases that needed to be handled. Her story slowed down the pace of the cases that were somewhat interesting and brought us to slowly dislike George Kiu who has always been down to earth until he starts seeing her. Selena is of course experienced and a better emotional actress than Sisley but it was her character Faye that made us lean towards Eunice whenever there were differences between the two characters. Whenever she was suffering, we suffered with her because it was really hard to watch and it didn't feel like it worked that well with the drama. Overall the marketing of her as a guest artist with three roles did not work because all the characters were too shallow and Faye particularly ruined the momentum of the series.

Joyce Tang as Jessie Hui: We definitely haven't seen Joyce on screen for while and she does not disappoint in this drama. There is a whole story about her failing marriage while raising her son but again it detracts from the suspense of the crime-thriller drama. But after seeing so many tvb dramas, we know their usual formula now. Just have a bunch of related characters and split up each episode to have a shot to develop each of those character's storylines and in the end get a little bit further until a super dramatic end comes to bring everyone together. The last episode will finally bring the two leads together romantically and all the side characters get married or have kids or something and of course, we can't forget about the few deaths that are a given in dramas! So Jessie's storyline with her husband and Raymond Cho's Lai Yat-Ming fulfills the on and off side story that ends happily. We like her performance here but her character in House of Spirits is better and has more development.

Raymond Cho as Lai Yat-Ming: Again, Raymond Cho delivers his character well and we have nothing to complain about. After an awesome role in Short End of the Stick, it's hard to beat that especially being the third male lead in this one. So here, this character could have been played by another actor to help them get promoted as Raymond was kind of wasted. He had his own story with being an ex-CIB but most of the time, he was just a comic relief. His interactions with the two newly-hired workers are funny but other than that, we don't have much comments. Raymond just did well once again haha.

Other characters:

Winki Lai as Madam Mok: After seeing her rowdy character in Blue Veins, this is certainly a change and it shows that she has some acting chops so we are excited to see some more of her.

Snow Suen as I.I: We haven't seen much of her until now and after looking at her filmography, we are taken aback by how many dramas she's been in! Too bad she is getting recognition now when she is already 34... Doesn't look like it but like Zoie Tam, these girls need to be promoted faster! She was a nice surprise.

People in the Insurance Fraud Association: Max Cheung as Blue, Rachel Kan as Chan Ka-Kei, Hoi Yeung as Tung Cheuk-Kiu were all good. We have noticed that Hoi Yeung has been getting more prominent roles, both in Over Run Over and this one so we are happy to see that!

Plot:

We are just gonna write a paragraph for this because we have forgotten most of the cases because none of them really stick out to us. The main theme of the accidents was a relatively new idea for TVB and the trailer proved to be exciting. However, when watching the drama, there were many times when the accident and insurance theme was lost and all we got to see what the relationships between the characters. Therefore, this isn't totally a crime/mystery/thriller drama and only a normal TVB drama with a different background story. There were many cases that were planned according to the fraud company run by Mantus and Blue and crew and we knew the head was Mantus right from the beginning so there was no suspense that way. The only case we really remember is the blind girl case who sculpted because the accuracy and precision of the timing of the truck driver reflecting the light into the worker's eyes was a little far-fetched. With police dramas these days, a lot of things go out of hand and it is like the police can share every single detail to the public and the public are have super high IQ's and physical strength. The overlapping and cutting of storylines is not that refined and that is why we don't remember many of the cases and overall, while we kept watching the drama, it wasn't suspenseful at all. Overall the plot is alright but falters at times.

Final Verdict:

This drama was interesting enough to keep us watching but there were a lot of missing elements for it to be a real thriller. There were many wasted actors playing unnecessary or overly dramatic roles that were severely under-developed.

7/10

Let us know what you think of the drama :)

-Cee and Jay



Saturday, 30 July 2016

CeeJay's Pick of the Month (July): 周杰倫Jay Chou X aMEI【不該 Shouldn't Be】- Ice Fantasy Theme Song

Hello again! August is right around the corner and we are back with the Pick of the Month of July!

A couple days ago, we were looking at the calendar and we realized we haven't done a Pick of the Month yet! So we started thinking of new songs this month that we enjoyed. After scrolling through the usual, dull list of Voice Entertainment uploads on YouTube and other HK music channels, we couldn't seem to decide on a song that really stood out to us. The songs were either boring or was lacking in originality. Finally, we came up with the idea to use the opening theme song of Ice Fantasy (幻城), the new epic fantasy drama from China that was released on July, 24th, 2016, since this was one of the dramas we just started watching. The song we chose is 不該 or Shouldn’t Be, sung by famous Taiwanese singers, Jay Chou (周杰倫) and A-Mei (張惠妹). Although there were many songs made for this drama, we really liked this one the most. We haven’t really done any Taiwanese songs for reviews before so this is exciting for us! Before, we get started with our thoughts on the song, we want to point out that this song was not newly released as of July and instead, this was released in June. However, we still think it qualifies for this month’s song since Ice Fantasy started airing in July.

Below are the videos of the song: the first one has english translation of the lyrics paired with clips from Ice Fantasy and the second one is the actual MV featuring Jay Chou and A-Mei.


作詞:方文山   
作曲:周杰倫

假裝我們還在 一塊 
我真的演 不出來 
還是不習慣你 不在 
這身份轉變 太快 

畫面裡不需要 旁白 
卻誰都看 的出來 
是我情緒湧了 上來 
想哭卻一遍 空白 

雪地裡相愛 他們說零下已結晶 的誓言 不會壞 
但愛的狀態 卻不會永遠都冰封 而透明 的存在 

輕輕飄 落下來 
許下的夢 融化的太快 
或許我們都 不該醒來 

你還是 住在我的 回憶裡不 出來 
讓我們 微笑離開 讓故事留 下來 
放手後 愛依然在 
雪融了 就應該花開 
緣若盡了 就不該再重來 

你依舊 住在我的 回憶裡不 出來 
我離開 將你的手 交給下個 最愛 
糾纏與 
(Oh)固執等待 
反而是 另一種傷害 
彼此緊握的手鬆開 去擁抱更多未來 

錯過的時間怎 麼買 
誰都付 不出來 
或許我們學會 釋懷 
讓過去安靜 下來 

雪地裡相愛 他們說零下已結晶 的誓言 不會壞 
但愛的狀態 卻不會永遠都冰封 而透明 的存在 

輕輕飄 落下來 
許下的夢 融化的太快 
或許我們都 不該醒來 

你還是 住在我的 回憶裡不 出來 
讓我們 微笑離開 讓故事留 下來 
放手後 愛依然在 
雪融了 就應該花開 
緣若盡了 就不該再重來 

你依舊 住在我的 回憶裡不 出來 
我離開 將你的手 交給下個 最愛 
糾纏與 
(Oh)固執等待 
反而是 另一種傷害 
彼此緊握的手鬆開 去擁抱更多未來 

Lyrics from: https://www.kkbox.com/hk/tc/song/jRo00wp2O5l25ssv25ssv0XL-index.html 

Let’s talk about the lyrics first. The lyrics are fairly well put together and the lines are understandable, instead of random words and phrases sloppily thrown together like many songs nowadays. Many people can probably connect to the touching and bitter story that is unfolded in the lyrics as well. It is the universality of the subject of love that makes the song relatable and yet, the lyrics are on point and the story itself is not too general that it loses effect in conveying feeling. From the lines, we can tell that something has gone wrong with a relationship and even though there is still love living in the lovers’ hearts, they know that they cannot go back to how they once were and must let go of their story. This is shown in “你還是住在我的 回憶裡不出來”, “讓故事留下來”, “放手後愛依然在”, and some other lines. From the second verse, we learn that they cannot revive their relationship as they have already lost the time they wasted and no one could give out some of their time for each other at the beginning as described in “錯過的時間怎麼買” and “誰都付不出來”. The only thing the two can do before they harm themselves further is to leave and embrace the future instead of being entangled in the irreversible mess and refusing to let go. Despite the love that still exists, it is better to leave the past behind and attempt to forget this heartbreaking encounter. Perhaps they will find a better future shared with a new lover later on. These meanings are displayed in:

“我離開將你的手交給下個最愛
糾纏與 固執等待
反而是另一種傷害
彼此緊握的手鬆開
去擁抱更多未來”

Many lines are emotional and the audience can really feel the conflicting situation that the characters are experiencing as they have to decide whether to give up this love or not. A great, touching line is “緣若盡了就不該再重來” because it basically embodies the whole story of the song saying that if the lovers’ fate together has ended, then they should not try to start again. There is a strong message here that tells us sometimes if you keep on trying to mend something that is already broken, it will only get worse. If it is known that something cannot be fixed, then it might be better to leave it alone. The relationship between the two were never meant to be because their fate has already ended and the word “緣” gives the feeling that the ones described in the song were star-crossed lovers.  Furthermore, in the first verse, “這身份轉變太快” could mean that there is a social status difference between the lovers and therefore, they are separated because of this, contributing to why there love did not work out. There is the need to praise the clever diction in the lyrics because there are some lines that really match with the theme in Ice Fantasy and it is brilliantly fitted to the story of the song. The incorporation of the theme of snow and ice in the lyrics as metaphors to describe the relationship is fantastic and brings the story to another level. This is contained in lines such as:

“雪地裡相愛 他們說零下
已結晶 的誓言 不會壞
但愛的狀態 卻不會永遠
都冰封 而透明 的存在”

These lyrics are powerful and a rough interpretation of the first lines would be that even though the promises are crystallized at below zero into a frozen state that appears unbreakable or incapable of going bad, love cannot be in the same frozen and transparent state forever. “許下的夢 融化的太快”means that their promised dreams are melting away too quickly and “或許我們都不該醒來” means that perhaps, neither of them should wake up from the dreams. The translation of “雪融了 就應該花開” is after the snow melts, flowers should bloom meaning that after the lovers’ let their emotions and affections melt away, they should find be able true happiness somewhere else instead of holding onto this relationship.

On another level, this song’s story also corresponds to Ice Fantasy because the song describes how the two people still love each other, even though they must leave their relationship behind and go separate paths. This is the basic story between the main characters of the drama, Ka Suo (Feng Shaofeng) and Li Luo (Victoria Song). Although Ka Suo is the Ice Prince and Li Luo is a mortal, the two fall in love but soon are forced apart because of their differences. They are to let go of their love, knowing that it will not last.

The only thing that we would consider as a downside to the lyrics is that some of the first lines are a bit random but overall, the lyrics were pretty good and there was enough variation in the lines that prevented the song from being too boring with the same lines over and over again.

After a long description of the lyrics, let’s move on to the tune and the singing for a bit. The fact that the song was sung by both Jay Chou and A-Mei is a very attracting aspect before even listening to the song. The tune is alright and after a while, it gets quite catchy although we will admit that the first time we heard this song, we didn’t think much about it. We didn’t even know this was 張惠妹 at the beginning which is probably why we didn’t really pay attention to the song. After, when we began to watch the first episode of Ice Fantasy, we thought the opening song to be vaguely familiar and we soon realized it was 不該. We tried to give the song a try again with a more in-depth listen and we began liking it more. The melody is memorable and has the ability to adhere to your mind. When doing this blog post, we had to listen to the song numerous times and we are surprised we aren’t bored of it after repeating it over and over again. We remember when we did the review for Alfred’s song 問天, we got so sick of listening to the song, especially since we kinda hated the song in the first place and we were writing to complain about it. We always thought that Jay had a very distinct voice but sometimes we can’t hear what he’s singing because of the weird way he slurs and pronounces some of the words. This is probably his style but it really bugged us in his song 算什麼男人 at the beginning and we couldn’t even understand what he was saying without looking at the lyrics the first time LOL. Luckily, in this song, we can hear him a lot better and otherwise, the singing was great. We heard that some people suspected that Jay’s falsetto @ 2:55 was edited or fake. We don’t know if this is true so we got nothing to say about that. However, we also found out that Jay was the one who composed the song which is impressive. Jay and A-Mei’s voices worked well together and it is so hard to come across good duets now which makes us appreciate this song more, considering the difficulty in writing the duet and executing it well afterwards. Since both are wonderful, talented singers, their collaboration was definitely not a letdown and the singing was pretty spot on for the most.

The last portion of this review will be discussing about the music video of the song. The MV is quite interesting and right at the start, it gave us a futuristic/sci-fi feel. We are not too sure about Jay and A-Mei’s costumes, they look a bit funny to us - are they supposed to be like rock style or what? A-Mei’s costume is a bit random with the long black coat, pumps, and purple hair so we don’t really know the purpose of that. It looks a bit superhero-ish too...The setting really looks futuristic though. And then starting at 1:18 we get flashes of another story that takes place in a setting that resembles where we live now. Also, there’s a random dude in a green chamber filled with fluid and some shots or a microscope, cells, etc. At the beginning, we were like what's going on? But after the whole MV, we guessed that the main character in the MV shared a good relationship with a woman at the beginning since there’s a lot of shots of their happy times. But after, he got very ill (3:27) and is forced to leave the woman (3:38-3:44) probably to try to find a cure. Woman is heartbroken after he leaves and another man comes to comfort her. At 4:05, the other man proposes to the girl and at 4:08 we see the main character seeing this and looking disappointed. This probably means that in the middle, the guy got cured and returned to find the woman but she was already with another man. Also, this is the same guy in the chamber and looking at the microscope so that’s probably when he was trying to figure out a cure for himself and tried different tests. At the end, it’s Christmas time and the woman and her children are opening presents and the little girl gives the mother a snow globe and she looks outside as if she sees something. She gets up but at the end it is just a snowy scene that is shown. Maybe the woman was reminiscing about her past with the main character and she was reminded about their times together after seeing the snow globe since many of the scenes in the MV of them together was in the snow having fun. Or maybe, she thought she saw him and turned around to check but he quickly disappeared because he didn’t want her to see him and ruin her happiness now. Another possibility is that the snow globe present was from a mystery someone and the woman thinks that it was actually the main character who left this present there and turns around, hoping to see that he has returned. As for Jay and A-Mei they didn’t really have a story in the video as much and their purpose was mostly to stand there and sing. The music video was good because there was a story developed in it and it connected to the song (like the snowing scenes going with the lyrics 1:17-1:23). Some parts, however were a bit disjointed and random which made it harder to understand when things happened and what was past, present, or future but maybe this was intentional??

As we wrap this review up, we want to say this was a very successful song, not only from judging the plentiful views of the video, but because it is both a capable, self-standing song and is very suitable when put as the theme song for Ice Fantasy. The story developed in a mere few minutes which is incredible and the song really sticks to your head once you starting listening to it. The lyrics are beautifully pieced together and the MV has a good plot and is not boring. Now add on top Taiwanese singers, A-Mei and Jay Chou, and you’ve got an outstanding, five-star piece. This totally deserves being the Pick of the Month so we hope everyone gives the song a try if you haven’t already.

Until next time!

-CeeJay