Friday, July 26, 2013

Historical Context - The Butterfly Lovers


Karma Rider revolves around the tragic love tale of Liang Zhu (or The Butterfly Lovers), which is often considered as the Chinese equivalent to Romeo and Juliet.

The story of Liang Zhu takes place during the Eastern Jin Dynasty – 300 years prior to the setting of Karma Rider. At that time, females traditionally stayed at home and received no formal education. But Zhu Yingtai (祝英台), the sole daughter of a wealthy family, was an eager learner and begged her father to allow her to go to school. Her father reluctantly agreed, on the condition that she goes disguised as a man.

On her journey to the school, she meets a fellow scholar named Liang Sanbo (梁山伯). They got along well right from the start and grew closer as they studied together for the next three years. Though they shared the same desk and a room, Liang never noticed that his friend was a girl. On the other hand, Zhu slowly falls in love with Liang.

One day, Zhu receives a letter from her father telling her to go home. Liang insists on making the journey with her. As they walk, Zhu drops hints about her true identity, pointing to pairs of geese and ducks, but Liang doesn’t catch on. Before they part, Zhu asks Liang to visit her home so that he can meet her “twin sister”.

A while later, Liang visits Zhu at her home and much to his surprise, discovers that Zhu was actually a girl. He immediately proposes to her, but she tearfully informs him that her parents have already arranged for her to marry into the wealthy Ma family. The heartbroken Liang leaves and later dies from his depression.

On the wedding date, a grieving Zhu is accompanied by a wedding procession towards the Ma house. As the group approaches Liang’s grave, a mysterious wind stops them in their path. Zhu runs off to Liang’s grave. The grave suddenly opens up amidst thunder and lighting and Zhu jumps in to join Liang for eternity. As the weather clears, two butterflies can be seen emerging from the grave and flying away together.

Always and Ever Promo Clips

Overview, Official Poster

Promo #1

Promo #2

Promo #3

Promo #4

Extended Trailer

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New Banner

This wonderful banner was created by Lynne from TVB Horizon and Linda Chung Thoughts, who very kindly volunteered to design a new banner in celebration of Casual TVB's first anniversary. The historical theme goes well with the blog's Historical Context feature.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Overview - Always and Ever

Posted Image

The results of a daggering oath causes CIB officer Bobby Au-Yeung to accidentally kill his girlfriend, Esther Kwan. Overcome with grief, his soul escapes and travels back in time to the Song Dynasty, where it attaches itself to the body of Justice Bao Zheng (Bobby). He is surprised to meet an ex-princess (Esther) who looks exactly like his girlfriend. Unfortunately, she gets framed by the evil minister Ben Wong and Bobby, as the famously impartial justice, is forced to execute her. Distraught, his soul leaves him again and finds its way to the 1950s. Bobby becomes a well-known detective and learns that Esther is present in this era as well. However, she does not recognize him and instead accuses him of murdering her husband. While Bobby investigates the case, he inadvertently discovers that the dancer Rebecca Zhu and her boyfriend Pierre Ngo are his parents in their youth. Bobby finds out that Esther's sister (Mandy Wong) has been behind everything. Tragedy strikes once more and Bobby kills Esther for the third time. His soul returns to the modern era. In order to protect Esther, Bobby is determined to break the curse. He searches for the person who placed the curse, but is shocked to discover that he is at the root of the tragedy...

The Song Dynasty will be 15 episodes, the '50s will take up 12-13 episodes and the modern era will only be 3 episodes.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Change of Heart Review

Producer: Nelson Cheung
Genre: Modern, suspense
Cast: Michael Miu, Bosco Wong, Joey Meng, Niki Chow, Vincent Wong, Mandy Wong, Elaine Yiu

A ruthless businessman has A Change of Heart after heart surgery, which greatly displeases his wife, who then has an affair with her subordinate, all the while suspecting her husband of an affair with the girlfriend of the heart donor who was also his doctor and whom has a twin brother that the girlfriend uses to get close to the businessman so she can investigate her mother's murder, which makes the wife so jealous that she goes to extreme lengths to get revenge, yet he remains true to her, except it was too late when she found out because she's done too many bad deeds and in the TVB world that means you must die no matter what because otherwise there will be complaints pouring in from lots of people with nothing better to do and we wouldn't want that now, would we?

A Change of Heart is one of the better series so far this year. Then again, that’s not saying much… To start off, this series boosts an attractive cast. The premise is interesting enough. The storyline itself progressed well and is intriguing with overlapping mysteries and curveballs. Even the most unsuspicious characters get embroiled as the mystery unfolds. The ending had some ingenuity, but was rushed as usual. Obviously, the script was far from perfect, but at least we can appreciate that it wasn’t a straight ride from start to finish.

Joey Meng was hands-down my favourite character. Ever since Consort Yu (Sheren Tang) of the original War and Beauty, I’ve been waiting for a character that would be equally as brilliant, manipulative and scheming. Joey is just that – chilling and evil to the core. She stops at nothing to get what she wants and never feels a tinge of remorse. This is my first time watching Joey and I can see why she’s such a highly-touted actress. She has great acting skills to go with her impressive looks.

Mandy Wong is quickly becoming one of my favourite actresses with her spectacular performances. Not for the first time, she is able to pull off a loud-spoken, selfish character without coming across as annoying. Maybe that's the reason she keeps getting these roles, because she is so excellent at that. She is completely immersed into her character and outshone the female lead, Niki, who was stagnant. 

Niki's character has a very emotional past, but Niki remained emotionless and distant throughout. At most, she just seemed to be moody. Her character can be unreasonable and too quick to jump to conclusions, which is not exactly a desirable trait for a police officer. Ironically, her best scene was not as herself, but as Joey acting as her in the confrontation with Michael. In that scene, I could really imagine Joey’s character being inside Niki's body.

The men paled in comparison to the ladies. Bosco Wong plays twins brothers who supposedly differ widely in personality, but he is one and the same for both roles. At times, I was confused as to which person he was. Still, he is charismatic and shares good chemistry with Niki. Michael Miu was entertaining as a super-egoistic businessman, but he lost that appeal after his surgery. I guess I just don’t like watching nice guys. His wife had every reason to be frustrated at him. His altruistic admission of his crime was, frankly, dumb. 

Vincent Wong and Elaine Yiu’s pairing was nothing to fawn over, nor were either characters vitally important for the story. But Vincent as a dorky detective wanna-be had his funny moments. He actually reminds me of an old classmate who speaks in the same manner. Benjamin Yuen was criticized in The Voice of Stars as being expressionless, and rightly so, because he’s just as wooden in here. The pair of Benjamin and JJ Jia never radiated that blissfulness as a couple, so it didn't matter much when their marriage fell apart. 

My suggested alternative ending: Joey as Niki should do more sinister things to frame the real Niki... 

Rating: 4/5 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

"Triumph in the Skies II" Theme Song

The theme song to TITS2 is called "Soar into the Clouds" (衝上雲霄), composed and sung by George Lam.

Comment: After hearing this, I agree with everyone that the original song was better. This sounds like it's for a '80s kung fu series.

The sub-theme song is "Lovers in the Air" (空中戀人), by Mag Lam.

The second sub-theme song is sung by Raymond Lam, called "On My Way".

"Karma Rider" Theme Song

The theme song for Karma Rider is "Understood" (明白了), performed by Hubert Wu.

Hubert's cover of Denise Ho's "Butterfly" (化蝶) is used as the sub-theme.

Comment: It doesn't sound bad, but I think it's lacking the same power as Denise. (Denise's version here.)

S4 - Then and Now

Sammul Chan was likely the most well-known of the S4 at the time of TITS, thanks to a leading role in Survivor's Law. Although he continued to have opportunities afterwards, he never seemed to win heavy favour from TVB. His stock fell in comparison to the S4, such that he was soon playing second fiddle to them. Unsatisfied with his prospects at TVB, Sammul took his talents to China, where he now has a flourishing career.

Ron Ng gained instant fame and popularity from TITS. He immediately received heavy promotion, starring in Twin of Brothers and winning the Most Improved Award in the next year. His popularity heightened with his role in The Academy franchise and his entrance onto the music stage. However, lately, his fans have complained that Ron has been pushed back in TVB's hierarchy despite being crowned Best Actor from i-Cable TV.

Bosco Wong had only been playing walk-on roles when he was called upon for TITS. Two years later, he shot to fame with War of the In-Laws, picking up the Most Improved Actor award. Since then, he has maintained his first-line siu-sang status with popular roles such as from Lives of Omission and Witness Insecurity. He has also moved into the Mainland market recently.

Kenneth Ma has gone a long way from being only a secondary character in TITS. Following TITS, he gradually got bigger roles and laid claim to the Most Improved Actor award in 2006. He was the last of the S4 to receive his first leading role, finally getting his chance in Survivor's Law II. His breakthrough came last year when he starred in The Hippocratic Crush, a role that helped him win the My Favourite Male Character award.

Collaborations between the S4   (cameo roles not included)

Sammul & Ron - The Academy, Guts of Man, On the First Beat, E.U., Turning Point

Sammul & Bosco - The Price of Greed

Sammul, Ron, Kenneth - The Four

Ron & Bosco - Find the Light, Aqua Heroes

Kenneth & Ron - Lost in the Chamber of Love, The Brink of Law, Silver Spoon Sterling Shackles, Seasons of Love

Kenneth & Sammul - Survivor's Law II

Bosco & Kenneth - Grace Under Fire

Bosco, Kenneth, Sammul - Wong Fei Hung

Monday, July 08, 2013

1st Anniversary

Today is Casual TVB's 1st Anniversary!!

Here's a little clip that is befitting of this special occasion:

Video credit to mwfloor

In our first year, we have published 146 posts that got 237,000+ pageviews.

We went from a measly 919 views in our first month to averaging 37,000 views in the last two months.

The most popular post was "Silver Spoon Sterling Shackles" Theme Song, which contributed 11,000 views to the total.

Some of my favourite posts from this year:

1. Star Sightings: Reality Check Filming, HK Adventures, TVB Stars @ Toronto, Him Law
2. Wayne Lai and Pierre Ngo - A Love Story
3. Is Raymond Lam Ironman?, Ironman Raymond Lam Returns
4. Screen Time Hoggers
5. Casual TVB Awards

A heartfelt thank you to every single reader out there. It is with your support that keeps me going.

Plans for the next year I want to start a Historical Context Feature, where I write profiles of random historical figures portrayed in past TVB dramas. But it is all dependant on how much time I can find.

Anyhow, I look forward to another good year!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

The Voice: Celebrity Edition

The celebrity edition of The Voice will begin airing tomorrow night. Here's a quick preview of the contestants in the first episode (except Caret Cheung - can't find clip of her singing).

Fred Cheng - 天意 (original by Ronald Cheng)

Stanley Cheung - 年少無知 (original by Bowie Lam, Moses Chan, Kenny Wong)

Ronald Law - 春風化雨 (original by Moses Chan, Ron Ng)

Oscar Leung & Mandy Wong - 祇有情永在 (original by Jacky Cheung & Cally Kwong)

Benjamin Yuen - 加價熱潮2012 (parody of Sam Hui)

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Him Law @ Toronto

Him Law was in Toronto to perform at the annual Scotiabank Chin Picnic. I saw Him before at a Divas in Distress event in Hong Kong, but this time, I scored a ticket at his autograph session and got to meet him up close! I even got to shake hands with him!

The second time in a month that I got to see TVB stars. Check out who I saw last month!