Friday, July 13, 2012

Quick Thoughts on the latest TVB Series Three Kingdoms RPG & Tiger Cubs

Due to the relative downtime I'm experiencing in mainland Chinese dramas, I've been surprisingly venturing back into TVB dramaland. Just a little caveat, I completely gave up hope on TVB's ability to produce any great series several years ago and would rarely watch anything from beginning to end. My expectations for TVB productions are pretty much NIL, but at the same time, my patience to endure their mediocrity is also very low. If I do watch any TVB dramas, they tend to be modern crime/detective series or just pure brainless comedy. Both Tiger Cubs and Three Kingdoms RPG fall into these categories.

Three Kingdoms RPG

Left to Right: Sima Xin, Zhuge Liang, and Zhou Yu
I've been a huge fan of the Zhuge Liang ever since I watched the old CCTV adaptation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Anything with the character "Zhuge Liang" will attract my attention. Three Kingdoms RPG isn't a serious adaptation of the original novel, but a comedic spin-off mixed with time travel elements. I found the first episode, which is mostly set in modern day Hong Kong, very mundane. Our hero, Sima Xin (played by Kennath Ma), is the antithesis of the definition for "hero" or even "likeable." He's spoiled, lazy, petty, and easily irascible. Most of his jokes aren't even that funny. But to give a fair evaluation, Sima Xin (romanized as Szema Shun in Cantonese) does occasionally have some funny moments that made me laugh out loud. I'll forgive him for his annoying traits for now. Ironically, I think Liu Bei is the funniest character.

Raymond Lam's Zhuge Liang is truly "chok." The phase "chok" is a popular Cantonese slang in Hong Kong to mean "to forcefully make oneself look more handsome". LOL. I love the fact that Sima Xin always teases Zhuge Liang for being chok. Raymond Lam's Zhuge Liang really brings the essence of chok to life. For the most part, the character of Zhuge Liang in this version doesn't deviate much from conventional perceptions. I can't say Raymond Lam is great in portraying Zhuge Liang, but he isn't unforgivably bad either. I think I would like this series more if TVB cast a better actress to play Zhuge Liang's wife. The current actress is too wooden and unconvincing in the role. I love that the writers incorporated this wife in the script because most dramas that incorporates Zhuge Liang tends to omit her. Unfortunately, the actress is not doing a good job in bringing that character to life.

Since this series is still being aired and only five episodes have been released, my comments don't reflect the entire series. I really hope the comedy will last throughout the entire series and not get abruptly overshadowed by the more serious political schemes. I also hope Kenneth Ma's character won't turn into an antagonist of Zhuge Liang. I prefer that they stay on the same boat and remain good friends. Unfortunately, I have a feeling the fact that Kenneth Ma's character bears the surname "Sima" foreshadows a fallout between these characters.  I speculate Sima Xin is somehow related to the Sima clan that would bring an end to the Shu Kingdom, and perhaps will he even morph into Zhuge Liang's greatest nemesis, Sima Yi?

Main Theme Song:



Tiger Cubs

This weekend police thriller has proven to be a big hit among internet audience. It provides a good dose of actions and eye candy for those who like well-sculpted body men that resemble Roman warriors curved in stone. I don't think I've ever seen so many well-built men in an Asian series before. LOL. The story centers on Hong Kong Police Special Duties Unit (SDU), the American equivalent of SWAT team. It follows a group of new trainees as well as the more seasoned officers in their professional and private spheres.

I am no fan of Joe Ma, who plays the ground leader of SDU team. His recent Hengdian Studio scandal further tarnished my impression of him. Luckily, Tiger Cubs has an ensemble cast that I generally like and Joe Ma's character is also tolerable. The plot isn't character driven, but  focuses more on different crime cases and action sequences. But don't expect any ingenuity in crime solving or any thrilling psychological game. Nothing really original in terms of writing crimes or cracking down criminals.

Despite TVB's deterioration and the gradual decline of Hong Kong film industry, I still feel Hong Kong makes some of the best cop series/movies in Asia. Hong Kong just really specializes in this genre. The pace of the storyline doesn't drag too much. Some cases may suffer from underdevelopment but it rarely overkill you in the frustrating details.

Trailer:

If you're interested, you can watch both of these series on AZDrama.net

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