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Sunday, July 29, 2007

[Drive of Life] 1-5 episodic thoughts

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Note: The below post will contain SPOILERS. They're my personal thoughts on this series and some people are bound to feel unhappy or disagree with my opinion. If you think you will, it's not too late to turn away now. If not, please be reminded that the below is my personal thoughts, written on my own site and should remain as so. However, if you would like to give your opinion on this series, do not hesitate to share your thoughts (comments section) or join the discussion forum at spcnet.

Finally, it has arrived. I have anticipated this [The Drive of Life] since it's filming in September 2006 and finally I am able to watch it through my TV screen. (Okay, I admit I did cheat a little by watching the CCTV – mandarin version via online live streaming.)

Frankly, I did not mind CCTV airing the series first and thus spoiling the ending (and affecting TVB rating). This is because at the beginning of the first episode, the ending is already somewhat revealed. Therefore, I would say the fun of watching this 'spoiled' series is in how these plotlines will unfold. And have I gushed on the opening video yet? Uber cool and creative, my favorite part was Damien walking out from the background.

In the first 5 episodes, nearly 80% of the main and supporting characters have been introduced to the audiences as the story progressed on the Wah family background, their family members and also the steel factory.

Let's start with Damien (I'm gonna use their name instead of character for easy reference). The CEO of Kwok Wai steel company, he's strict, demanding, and stubborn - not exactly the person you would like to be stuck in a room with. However, he is a loving husband, father and brother, though his ways of showing them are rather 'problematic'.

You see, 40 years ago, the Wah brothers was given an opportunity of going to Hong Kong. However, only 2 out of 3 Wah brothers are allowed to go. The eldest one, Man Hung (acted by newbie Bryant Mak) 'pre-decided' that only he and the youngest one, Man Shek should go while the middle brother Man Hung (acted by newbie Oscar Chan) should stay and take care of their sick mother. Problem arise when Man Hon was afraid that Man Hung would disagree and thus decided to cheat on the draw. Man Hung, ever so respectful of his brother, suspected nothing and agreed to stay back. However, the truth was later revealed by Man Shek and from thereon, the two brother's relationship is severed.

And throughout the early episodes, the way Damien dictates the people around him, be his family member or staffs clearly shows that he assumed that people should live the way he think is correct – regardless of their feelings.

What about Man Shek? Seriously, Michael Miu is one of my most consistently disliked characters in DOL (however, Joe Ma and Gigi Wong tops my disliked list, but now is not the time to divulge yet). What I mean is that I've never liked this character from the beginning till the end.

Michael's character should be likeable – he's friendly, outgoing and generous to everyone. However, soon you will realize this middle age playboy is also timid, irresponsible and immature (an irony, compared to his age). I would call this kind of person as a rat, but then again he have a saving grace in having a conscience. The blame should be placed on Damien and Sheren. Damien, with his dictatorship way has molded Michael into a person without decision and lacking of self confidence, while Sheren and his father indulges Michael in his philandering and irresponsible ways.

Then there is Damien's son; Zhen Pong (Raymond Lam) who has just graduated from his studies but refused to go home because he doesn't want to work. We have seen countless rich heir feeling insulted when people call them 'yee sai joe' (meaning rich heir that only know how to spend money), but Ray will take it as a compliment and even proudly announced himself one. In one scene where Damien asked Ray why he refused to work, Ray grinningly replied that because the family is rich enough to support his lifestyle, he have no reason to work.

(See, this is what happened when you entrust your son to the care of your irresponsible younger brother and his equally spoiled wife Sheren. From Damien blog entry in TVB site, there was a mention that Ray constantly spent time with them as a child)

Luckily, Ray inherited a good characteristic – Intelligence. From the beginning, Ray showed a remarkable potential as entrepreneur, not like his father but unconventional types more like (crazy) Richard Bronson. However, from his lack of patience and discipline, audiences can predict that he will be heading for disaster...

Which one of them comes in the form of Wing Sau Fung (Charmaine Sheh). Though just graduated and returned to HK for 6 months, she is already the top agent in her real estate investment company. Opportunist and money-oriented, she is not exactly popular with her colleagues and normal people that come across her (except her clients, of course). However she is a very filial and loving daughter to her mother Cheung Ping (Maggie Chan) because she grew up witnessing how her father abused her mother and how her mother has to fend for their livelihood in Canada.

So when these two equally egoistical and self centered people bump into each other, there's bound to be sparks. Ray sees her as a challenge, perhaps as a trophy girlfriend while Charmaine sees him as an opportunity to a big bank account, as business partnership not lovers due to her distrust in men.

Ching Yu (Jessica Hsuan) starts of as a likable character – gentle, compassionate and a little playful. Jessica is her parent's favorite because she is obedient and always followed Damien's instruction – she willingly gave up designing because her father feels that accounting is more suitable for her. Therefore, she is a huge contrast to her brother Ray. However, she is very supportive of Ray and did not mind secretly helping him many times as the story progressed. One of her merits is that she is good at giving advice and getting her point across without offending anyone.

Apart from Michael, there is another two annoying character in the series, which are his wife Siu Fan (Sheren Tang) and younger brother Siu Leong (Power Chan). Sheren (whom I grow to love in later half of this series), is a spoiled heiress with a very short fuse. She feels that Man Hon owes his success to her family and thus treated Wah family with disdain (clearly reflected in how disrespectful she was toward Damien and Gigi). She forgave Michael easily after the incidence with Siu Leong but hell broke loose when she found out that he was unfaithful to her. She would have divorced him if not for their daughter Ching Lam (Toby Leung), whom I must say have the worst crying skills here (Look, I really want to give her a chance but clearly favoritism is a factor for choosing her to take this role. I can give a list of good actresses but the sad thing is their father is no TVB top executive).

As for Power Chan, he's a good supporting cast as usual, though I did find the wig a little weird. Don't know why, everytime he appeared, the wig keep bothering me... Power is very successful in making me hate this character, he's the evil version of Ray, minus the looks :P

As for the other characters which have already appeared like Man Hung (Liu Ging Sang), Ngai Tin Hang (Ng Wai Kwok), Ngai Wing Piew (Joe Ma), Tin Zhen Man (Feng Shao Feng) etc; I'll save it for episode 6-10 because their personality haven't been revealed too much as of episode 1-5.

Honestly, the first 5 episodes did not start of with a bang but still is good enough with consistent flow and climax throughout. I can't say the same with the editing though. A bit sad if a good story and acting was somewhat blemished by the haste editing. Anyway, the main highlight of the first 5 episodes is the relationship of Damien with the other main characters. After all, he is the central character in the series.

Whoever that saw the first 2 episodes and complaint about how 'boring' it was to show about two 'old' people, IMO they're the one who is shallow for not being able to see that this storyline is very important to the series and closely related to the events that happens throughout the series. If 'interesting' young people storyline is what you're looking for, Taiwanese idol series is a better choice. Brains not needed, how wonderful.


Taelin said...

Well, I don't exactly like Michael's character, but it isn't hateable just yet. For now, he's just useless xD.

I didn't like Sheren's screaming scene when she found out that Michael was having an affair.

O_O I'm repeating myself. If anyone wants to read my thoughts, just go on

jenny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jenny said...

i liked the 3rd ep. the best because i think the producers presented/unfolded the charray relationship very well from the first time they met till the end of the series. As for the other characters i clearly could see their transformation which was very intersting. i liked damien very much in the first 5 ep.

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