Burning Flame


Reviewed by: Faith

June 28, 2005

Rating: four-point-five

Cast:
Wong Hei – Lok Tin Yau
Esther Kwan Wing Ho – Sum Pik Yiu
Louis Koo Tin Lok – Lau Hoi Pak
Chin Ka Lok – Ng Dai Heng
Zheng Geng Gei – Sze Tou But
Jay Leung – Lok Hew Chui
Lei Zi Hong – Lok Hew Fung
Joe Ma Tak Chung - Wong Jun Fatt
Lei San San – Tang Jeng Yuet
Chun Pui – Lok Shun

Synopsis

Lok Tin Yau (Wong Hei) has dreamed of becoming a firefighter since he was young, because he was saved by a brave firefighter once. His mother initially did not allow him to be a firefighter for fear of his safety. However, Yau managed to convince her otherwise. His childhood friends, Dai Heng (Chin Ka Lok) and But (Zheng Geng Gei) joined the Pat Heung Academy with Yau, too. Pak (Louis Koo) is the son of a rich man, but he is forced to become a firefighter after his father refused to give him any more money. Pak then leaves his home with his autistic brother, Bou Bou, and goes to Pat Heung as well. Sum Pik Yiu (Esther Kwan) is a working lady with a steady boyfriend of 8 years. But her life is not trouble-free: she loses her job, her family is in debt, and she discovers her boyfriend cheating on her. In order to start anew, she joins Pat Heung to become a firefighter.

In the academy, they all have to undergo grueling training in order to be qualified firefighters. There, the trainees forge a strong bond and teamwork is an essential quality found in all firefighters. Even the cool, anti-social Pak warms up to Yau, Dai Heng and the others over time. Upon graduating, Yau, Dai Heng and But are sent to Chi Wan San Station, whereas Pak is sent to Cheung Chau. At Chi Wan San, the 3 boys meet Fung (Lei Zi Hong). Yau initially dislikes Fung’s laid-back attitude, but soon realizes that he has a lot to learn from Fung. As the relationships between the characters begin to form, their lives become more and more complicated, as Yau finds out that his father is Fung’s father.

Character Review

Wong Hei as Lok Tin Yau
As one of the central characters in this series, Wong Hei carried the part of Yau with much enthusiasm and charisma. He was arguably the most likeable person in the entire series. He was a filial son; a righteous and courageous person who had a burning desire to become a firefighter. Even his mother gave in to him and sent him her blessings. His determination and his belief that anything can be achieved by working hard made him a joy to watch. His only flaw was his failure to realize that the woman he truly loved was Yiu, not Yuet.

Esther Kwan as Sum Pik Yiu
Esther did a good job playing the always-unlucky Pik Yiu. Her character undergoes a lot of change; from having a nine-to-five desk job to being a physically fit firefighter; from having a steady boyfriend to falling in love with Yau. I admired her for staying strong and uniting her family throughout all the obstacles. Later on, when her face was burnt in an accident, she had the support from her friends and family as well. I thought that her relationship with Fung was doomed from the start, because it was obvious that she did not love Fung at all.

Louis Koo as Lau Hoi Pak
As always, Louis plays a strong, cool character, who is constantly at odds with his father. His mother died when he was a child, and her last wish was for Pak to take good care of his autistic brother, Bou Bou. Pak loves mountain-climbing, and got to know Chui, who was also a firefighter, through his hobby. He started to develop feelings for Chui, especially after he was sent to the station that Chui was working in. However, he did not know that Chui was actually his brother, Marco’s girlfriend. When he did find out, he did not give up on Chui, because he knew that she loved him more. This caused a huge rift between Pak and Marco. Louis does an okay job, possibly because the character somewhat resembles his own personality. Pak was cool but extremely stubborn. I particularly loved scenes of Pak and Bou together.

Chin Ka Lok as Ng Dai Heng
My second favorite character after Yau would be Dai Heng. Chin Ka Lok portrays the character in a gleeful, comical way which adds a lot of amusement to the series. Dai Heng is always described as the one with brawns but a very simple mind. Chin Ka Lok’s expressions are very funny to watch. Dai Heng was probably one of the very few characters that did not have any major change from the start till the end. Chin Ka Lok really brought much needed comic relief to the otherwise depressing at times series.

Zheng Geng Gei as Sze Tou But
Zheng Geng Gei gave a very convincing portrayal of the cowardly but loyal But. Although he could never measure up to his best friends, Yau and Dai Heng, whether physically or mentally, But had a kind heart and would never betray his friends. However, But did not get the happy ending that he deserved. From being a regular firefighter, he quit to venture into business with Fatt. But worked hard to earn money to satisfy his materialistic wife and to take care of his family. As he got richer, his superior attitude became irritating to others. In a cruel twist of fate, But lost everything: his wife abandoned him, he was wanted by cops for assisting in Fatt’s illegal activities, and even his best friends shied away from him. In an act of desperation, he chose not to betray Fatt and committed suicide.

Lei Zi Hong as Lok Hew Fung
Fung’s character is the one that went through a complete 360-degree change, from being a respectable leader to a wounded, desperate criminal. At the start, Fung was the head of Chi Wan San station. He was one of the most outstanding firefighters at his prime, and was extremely respected by his subordinates for his courage and experience. However, his family started to crumble after he discovered that Yau was his brother. His mother became mentally unstable because she could not accept that her husband never loved her. She was finally sent to a mental hospital and Fung was devastated. During that period, he and Yiu began their relationship. However, Fung was always suspicious about Yau and Yiu’s relationship. His hatred towards Yau grew. When he had to quit his job after injuring his hand, his life stooped to an all-time low. He pretended to be mentally unsound like his mother to gain Yiu’s sympathy. He also assisted Fatt’s illegal activities, and finally betrayed Fatt.

Most Memorable Moments
1) Yau, Dai Heng and But pretending to jump off the building at the corridor of their apartments
2) But scaring Dai Heng with non-existent rats
3) Yau, Dai Heng and But making up songs while cleaning equipment at work
4) Yuet saying “Sumimasen!”
5) Any scene with Pak and Bou Bou together
6) Any scene with Yau and his mother
7) Yau pouting when he saw Yiu with a foreigner who seemed to be her boyfriend
8) Dai Heng and Fei Fong’s wedding

Final Say
Overall, this series is worth a watch. The firefighting aspect of the series is well done and it is very interesting to watch. It gives some insight into the gruelling tasks and dangers that firefighters have to go through daily. The lives of the characters are at times of soap opera standard, and there are many heartwarming, tear-jerking scenes to look forward to. The parts where I cried most were when Yau and his mother were at the beach, and Pak finding Chui after the landslide. The actors and actresses carry the series very well, and the production is excellent. A must-watch.


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