28 episodes, 8 tapes
Cast: Kenneth Chan Kai Tai, Joey Meng, Poon Chi Man, Wallis Pang, Elena Kong May Yee, Ng Ting Yip, Lui Yau Wai, Jason Lau, Ricky Chan Po Yuen
An interesting (though hardly original) idea that unfortunately wasn't translated very well to the screen, "Project Ji Xiang" (PJX) falls well short of its potential.
Kenneth stars as Nham Kiet Tuong, a journalist whose birth is shrouded in murder and mystery. Thirty years ago he was found in a coffin, healthy (and looking like a three-monther I might add), AFTER his mother died in a fatal hit and run. Hey, anything is possible in the world of fiction, right? Kiet Tuong consequently has an uncanny ability to "see" disasters before they occur, thus able to prove himself something of a hero on more than one occasion.
Joey Meng is Dai Thien Huong, a police officer investigating the disappearance of a child in the building where Kiet Tuong works. Kiet Tuong begins to have strange flashes involving the little boy, and so gets embroiled in the investigation. Meanwhile, the latest addition to the office is Sally Ong (Wallis Pang), who falls for Kiet Tuong after she mistakes him for her internet chat pal (who of course is his best friend Johnson (Ricky Chan)). Sally turns out to be the daughter of business tycoon Ong Nhan Kiet (Poon Chi Man), a man who is extremely superstitious and thinks he has a special connection to Kiet Tuong. He definitely knows something about the death of Kiet Tuong's parents, but what? The majority of the series involves Kiet Tuong investigating his parents' death, his "project".
This serial has its ups and downs, but unfortunately it spends most of its time under water. Far too much time is given over to totally unnecessary and bloody annoying characters, especially Lucia (Lui Yau Wai), the middle-aged thrice-divorced woman who refuses to acknowledge her son Nhat Nhat and gave him up for the stupidest reason - she believes she brings him bad luck. A large chunk of the first half of this series involves him searching for his mother, befriending her without knowing, she crying and grieving but refusing to acknowledge him. Then he finds out and wastes more of our time begging her to take him back. And to add insult to injury, there is absolutely no point to this storyline. It does not tie in whatsoever with the main story.
And then there is Kiet Tuong's father (Jason Lau) and his boss at the newspaper (Lau Nam Kwong) fighting over this woman, the aim being, I presume, to provide comic relief. This is ironic, since there is no tension to dispel, as they take over most of the first eight episodes, totally eclipsing the case Kenneth and Joey are investigating, which would have been infinitely more interesting than watching two middle-aged and not-so-very-smart men squabbling over a woman who can't seem to make up her mind about anything. Because of this appalling set-up, in the 15 hours they had, they could only present two cases. At this rate, HK television will never match other countries? (come on, the Americans can solve one case in less than an hour!)
The weird happenings tied up with Kiet Tuong's mystery are old and predictable, and REPETITIVE - things already destroyed miraculously appearing again, television screens showing weird images and not responding to the remote control, lights flickering on and off, music heard when no one's playing, faces of the dead popping up here and there - why is it that when a person thinks he sees someone who's already dead and starts walking towards this very real-looking apparition, his line of vision is ALWAYS blocked by something, and by the time he looks back, whatever it was has disappeared?
Granted that this is a story dealing with the supernatural, but at least try to keep the science correct. How can a young healthy male all of a sudden develop end-stage hepatocellular cancer? And with only six months to live, you?d think it would have metastasised. But no, they cure it with a liver transplant from mummy (does she have two livers?), just to prove she doesn't bring him bad luck. Oh please.
And the biggest boo boo of all - after 10+ hours of gathering evidence trying to convict the killer by legal means and failing miserably, he is finally strangled by the spirits of his victims. W-h-a-t? If they could have killed him themselves, why wait 30 years for their son to do the dirty work? Why did we sit through this crap for?
Saying that, I did sit through it, for a couple of reasons. One, I like Joey and Kenneth, and they look good together in here. Kenneth's role as Kiet Tuong suits him - a little arrogant, yet kind. Joey basically reprises her role as Ma Tieu Linh in "Vampire", albeit a tad less snooty. Wallis is unfortunately painful to watch. Her role as Sally does not suit her at all - she was so good in "Cold Blood Warm Heart" as Adam Cheng and Gallen Lo's little sister. But the biggest surprise of all is Ng Ting Yip, playing an eccentric gangster (Uu Huu Di) whose developing relationship with Le Huong (Elena Kong), Joey's older sister and also a police officer, is highly entertaining. These two provide the best laughs here, and much more time should have been spent on them. I realise through this series that Ng Ting Yip is a very good actor, able to pull off any kind of role (crook, cop, vampire!), and he has great chemistry with any lady he works with. Definitely someone who deserves more credit than he's received thus far.
The verdict? The plot is promising, but the screenplay is atrocious. Tolerable if you like Joey and Kenneth, but still, worth watching if only to see Uu Huu Di and Le Huong's story unfold. Just be warned: there won't be much left once you skip over all the parts with Lucia in it.