Thursday, April 24, 2014

Everlasting Friendship?

Do you believe in everlasting friendship?

Does it not exist?
Or was it just our friendship that was particularly weak?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Never Dance Alone" Actresses

Many younger TVB fans (me included!) may not be familiar with the actresses in Never Dance Alone, who were active during the 1980s and 1990s. Here's a brief rundown of the seven actresses.

Carman Lee (李若彤)

Carman was an air stewardess before entering the entertainment industry. She became widely known after playing Xiaolongnü in TVB's 1995 remake of The Condor Heroes with Louis Koo. Her popularity was boosted further after she participated in another wuxia remake, Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils. Carman was known for her versatility in portraying many different types of characters. She largely retired from the television and film industry starting in 2005.

Last TVB series: Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (1997)

Rachel Lee (李麗珍)

Rachel began filming commercials since high school. During her early career, she was a member of the “Happy Young Girls”, a group known for their young, cheerful image. Later, she made a drastic change and got a breakthrough from Category III movies. In 1999, she was awarded Best Actress in Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards for her performance in the film Ordinary Heroes. Since then, she has been working mostly in the Mainland market.

Last TVB series: War of Genders (2000)

Gloria Yip (葉蘊儀)

Gloria entered the showbiz at the young age of 13 and quickly became a sensation. Based on her role in the film Peacock King, she was named “Most Popular Foreign Actress” in both Japan and Korea, the first Hong Kong actress to receive both awards in the same year. Her popularity streak continued throughout Asia as she released music albums in Japanese, Korean and Mandarin. She retired in 1995 after her marriage, though she made a brief comeback from 2001-2004.

Last TVB series: Justice Bao (1995)

Angie Cheong (張慧儀)

Angie represented Malaysia at the 1993 Miss Chinese International beauty pageant and was awarded a contract with TVB. She became a household name with her two roles in A Kindred Spirit. The death scene of one of her characters set a ratings record at that time. Her other notable role was the “Spider Demon” in Journey to the West. In 2006, she stepped away from the entertainment circle to focus on her healthy foods business.

Last TVB series: Armed Reaction IV (2004)

Fennie Yuen (袁潔瑩)

Fennie was discovered at the age of 16 by famed movie producer Raymond Wong. As a prominent member of the “Happy Young Girls” group, she starred in many comedies and had a part in the group’s three music albums. She also released two individual albums on her own. Beginning in 1992, she ventured onto the television scene. Her most notable work is her double role in Face to Face, where she played a pair of sisters with opposite personalities. She has been in retirement since 2003.

Last TVB series: Slim Chances (2002)

Flora Chan (陳慧珊)

Flora started as a news reporter for TVB’s English channel. She became an actress after being offered a role in File of Justice V. From there, she quickly became one of the top fadans and participated in numerous classics, such as Untraceable Evidence, Healing Hands and Triumph in the Skies. She was awarded Best Actress in 2002 for her role in Family Man. She has been in semi-retirement mode since her marriage and her daughter’s birth in 2007.

Last TVB series: Suspects in Love (2010)

Elvina Kong (江欣燕)

Elvina participated in the 1985 New Talent Singing Awards and was signed by TVB. She joined the long-running variety show Enjoy Yourself Tonight, where she gained recognition for portraying the Filipino domestic worker “Maria”. She took a hiatus in 2001 following her marriage, before returning to TVB in 2006. Upon her return, she has participated in the sitcoms Best Selling Secrets and Off Pedder and was brought on as a host of the Super Trio show.

Last TVB series: Let It Be Love (2012)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Never Dance Alone Theme Song

The theme song for Never Dance Alone is "Star Cluster" (星斗群), by Shirley Kwan and Mag Lam.

The ending theme song is "Let's Dance", sung by the young actresses in the series.

The sub-theme song is "Friendship" (友誼), by Elvina Kong.

Overview - Never Dance Alone
Never Dance Alone Promo Clips

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Case of Chan Kau-tai

The second episode of ICAC Investigators 2014 is adapted from the real-life case of Chan Kau-tai (陳裘大). He is the father of singer Eason Chan.

Lawrence Cheng's character is based on Chan Kau-tai.

Chan Kau-tai was the Chief Building Services Engineer of the Housing Department in Hong Kong. Between 2000-2001, he was investigated by the ICAC for taking bribes from contractors and material suppliers in exchange for helping them win government contracts or giving them favourable treatment during the inspection process. He was also accused of accepting money to help a friend's son get a job in the government. In total, he took in $3 million HKD from bribes.

During the trial, the ICAC famously presented video footage of Chan counting banknotes in his office. The video was captured using surveillance cameras installed in his office, with the permission of his superior. Although the legality of the ICAC's surveillance was questioned, the court ultimately admitted the tapes as evidence. Chan was convicted on 10 of 16 charges and sentenced to 7 years of imprisonment.

This was the story presented in ICAC Investigators 2014, but it is not the full story.

Chan appealed the ruling on the basis that the ICAC purposely concealed the DUI (driving under influence) record of one of the case's principal investigators. The credibility of that investigator's testimony and fairness of the trial was challenged. The appeal was allowed and a re-trial was ordered.

In addition, during the trials of the four suppliers, the ICAC was found to have violated the defendants' rights by seizing their documents without a search warrant and tape-recording their conversations with their lawyer. The latter is a violation of the legal professional privilege, which protects a person's right to seek legal advice without fear that their communications with their lawyer would be used against them. A violation of this right would severely impact the public's confidence in the justice system, thus the district court issued a permanent stay of proceedings. The stay of proceedings was appealed by the Department of Justice. The appeal was allowed and the cases were sent back for re-trial.

In the end, Chan was sentenced to six years of imprisonment, while two of the suppliers who had allegedly offered bribes were acquitted. In 2008, Chan was released on parole.

Friday, April 11, 2014

TVB Siblings

In honour of National Siblings Day (April 10), let's look at some of the siblings at TVB:

Tavia & Griselda Yeung

Gigi & Lily Ho

Niki & Kathy Chow

Paul Chun & John Chiang; their half-brother is Derek Yee (director)

Remus & Calvin Choy

Stephen & Francois Huynh

Daniel & Adrian Chau

Jacky & Jeffrey Wong

Gregory & Augustine Lee; their father is veteran actor Lee Ka Ding

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Storm in a Cocoon Review

Producer: Leung Choi-yuen
Genre: Mystery, family
Cast: Steven Ma, Tavia Yeung, Evergreen Mak, Maggie Siu, Natalie Tong

I’ll admit I thought Storm in a Cocoon would have the cliché family infighting storyline. The series turned out to a pleasant surprise. It had an excellent cast and a solidly written plot. The series is essentially divided into two parts: a whodunit mystery for the first 20 episodes and then “property protecting”, as the Chinese title suggests, for the last 12 episodes.

The mystery part was very intriguing and suspenseful. There is a long suspect list as everyone seems to have something to hide. It was fun crossing off the names along with Ka Yeung (Steven) and Bing Bing (Tavia) in the series. With each crossed-off name, a new secret is exposed and a new direction must be taken. The whole story was woven together masterfully, with each clue, secret or partial flashback leading the audience to think that one person did it, but there turns out to be a very logical explanation for their actions. As a rule, the ultimate culprit will be the least unexpected one. Overall, a delightful segment to watch.

The second part of the series reverts to a power struggle and revenge story. While it is a classic set-up, this series manages to throw in many creative plot twists to keep the audience on the edge. Unfortunately, the scriptwriters run out of creative juices a little too soon and put together a finale that rips-off Titanic and TVB’s own Beyond the Realm of Conscience. It is still a good part two to follow up the thrilling mystery.

The series features a strong cast, anchored by Stevia. Steven and Tavia undoubtedly share great chemistry, this being their fourth partnership. They are a couple that balked against all tradition and adversity. Their deep love is apparent with the way they interact and look into each other’s eyes. As for their individual performances, Steven does an excellent job portraying Ka Yeung, a man who was forever changed by his experiences in the military. He is able to show that inner turmoil in the scenes where he is alone. Meanwhile, I didn’t like Tavia’s loud-mouthed character in the beginning, but thankfully, she tones it down when she was put in charge of the silk factory. I love the scene where she collapses against the wall, crying. It shows how despite her fortitude, she is still, at the very heart, a woman deeply affected by her husband’s absence.

In contrast, Evergreen Mak and Maggie Siu were a couple that was unable to survive through the adversities. They are both strong veteran actors who were able to display this tragedy on-screen. However, Evergreen lacked presence until he turned evil. Even then, he didn't give off an evil vibe, but that could be because his character isn't really evil at the core. Maggie, on the other hand, was brilliant in portraying a woman who is both strong and weak – strong in defending her sorority against harm, but weakened by her love for Evergreen. In the end, her character was useless in preventing his misdeeds and died an unnecessary death.

Matt Yeung and Natalie Tong were a side story, though they had their cute moments. Matt excels in these shy, boy-next-door roles. Yeung Chiu Hoi was decent being a traumatized younger brother. Stephen Wong is suitable as a villain. Akina Hong had many layers in her performance of a very interesting character. KK Cheung makes a great villain and he even had the local accent (Shunde is actually his native town). All others unmentioned are okay, but no standout performances.

Rating: 4.5/5

Monday, April 07, 2014

Overview - Never Dance Alone

Carman Lee lives an ordinary life with husband Lawrence Cheng despite always being bullied by her mother-in-law. One day, she comes across a flyer advertising the “Fung Sin Dance Studio”, making her think back to her high school days. Back then, she enjoyed writing and formed a group called “M Club” with her fellow classmates: the girl with a local accent (Rachel Lee), the avid dancer (Elvina Kong), the gossiper (Fennie Yuen), the early maturer (Angie Cheong) and the fortune teller (Gloria Yip). The six friends vowed to stick together no matter what. But twenty years later, they each lead separate lives and can only look back at their youthful dreams with a sigh. Only Elvina has maintained her passion for dancing. An accident that causes her to be hospitalized leads to the reunion of the M Club members. The old friends work together to defend the “Fung Sin Dance Studio” from the competing “D Fitness”, run by their high school rival Flora Chan. Meanwhile, Carman reencounters her first lover, Lawrence Ng. Rachel has mixed feelings as she remembers her past, including secretly causing the break-up of Carman and Lawrence, and giving birth to her daughter out of wedlock. Through all these events, the ladies rediscover the energy, courage, motivation and confidence that they thought had disappeared…

Friday, April 04, 2014

ICAC Investigators 2014 Promo Clips

ICAC Investigators 2014 - Preview of Cases

Promo #1

Promo #2

Case 1 - "Tomorrow"

Case 2 - "Spider"

Case 3 - "Money Grubber"

Case 4 - "Black Ball"

Case 5 - "Comrade"

Extended Trailer

ICAC Investigators 2014 - Preview of Cases

Case 1 - "Tomorrow"

Rookie investigator Venus Wong joins the ICAC with aspirations to fight the big tigers. But instead, she is assigned to a case involving a supermarket staffer (Jo Koo) and a milk powder smuggling operation. Venus is disheartened to see ordinary citizens being forced onto a road of corruption just to provide for themselves. Fortunately, senior investigator Liu Kai-chi helps her understand that there is no difference between major or minor cases of corruption. At the same time, Venus must make a decision about her own future. To have a better tomorrow, should she stay or leave?

Case 2 - "Spider"

The Housing Department's chief engineer Lawrence Cheng takes advantage of his position to solicit bribes for government construction contracts. Like a spider building its web, he constructs a massive network of corruption. Although ICAC investigators Gardner Tse and Raymond Wong have received reports on the corruption, they cannot find evidence against the cautious suspect. Fortunately, with the support of other departments, they eventually succeed in capturing the corrupt spider in the web of justice.

*This story depicts the corruption case of Eason Chan's father. Read about the case here.

Case 3 - "Money Grubber"

Alice Chan successfully goes from being penniless to joining the ranks of the upper-class. Unfortunately, her endless persuade of wealth causes her to manipulate the stock markets. Despite being investigated by the Securities Commission and ICAC investigators Joyce Tang, Shirley Yeung and Jason Chan, Alice is unrepentant and uses any means possible to evade justice. She ends up amassing more and more criminal charges.

Case 4 - "Black Ball"

A passionate and talented soccer player, Ronald Law, inadvertently gets involved with an illegal sports betting operation. He is induced to throw an upcoming match, and even persuades his teammates to participate in the match-fixing. After receiving a tip, ICAC investigators Ruco Chan, KK Cheung and Sire Ma are put on the case. Facing the temptation of money, some players choose to continue practice as usual, while others are unsure. In the end, will they fall to temptation and give up their dreams?

Case 5 - "Comrade"

During the 1990s, the ICAC marked its 20th anniversary. Just as the corruption problem within the police force was slowly being erased, a mass corruption case involving over 20 officers reappeared again. It involved officers of all ranks, including constable Hoffman Cheng and chief inspector Desmond So. In the present day, senior investigator Eddie Kwan continues investigating the case with rookie Vincent Wong. The implications in the case shock the ICAC. Fortunately, they receive full cooperation from Kenny Wong of the police force, forging a new partnership between the ICAC and police.

ICAC Investigators 2014 Promo Clips