Golden Faith

Reviewed by: frostbite

March 03, 2005

Rating: four

Gallen Lo: Ding Shan Ben (Ivan)
Jessica Hsuan: Cheng Tian Lan (Rachel)
Deric Wan: Zhong Shou Kang (Richard?)
Michelle Yip: Cheng Xiao Yu (Rain)
Raymond Lam: Ding Shan Xing (Oscar)
Tavia Yeung: Zhong Cui Er (Kiko)
Anne Heung: Gui Li Fu (Sabrina)
Myolie Wu: Ding Shan Yin

This is the only other series I have watched in Cantonese (besides Twin of Brothers). I reckon only by watching the original Cantonese version, I would be able to fairly judge the performances. Therefore, I'm writing a review on this one. (The names I would still spell in Chinese though)

Plot Summary:
I really wonder if I should do this because this is the part I long to skip when I read any other review. I will make this short. The main plot of the story is about how Ivan (Gallen) strives to fulfil his father's dying wish. Ivan's father had been earning money using illegal ways. It was only when he got old when he felt that his gold company should switch lanes so that when his son Oscar (Raymond) takes over his business, he would not have to follow his father's footsteps all over again. Quite sweet, isn't it?

Other Sub-plots:
- Ivan building up his relationship with Shou Kang (Deric), his long lost brother, who is a cop. He loathed Gallen at first as he thought he was a criminal and as the two men fell for the same woman, Rachel (Jessica). However, he slowly realizes that his brother is a great guy and they begin to get along really well.

- The love ?pentagon? of Sabrina (Anne), Ivan, Rachel, Shou Kang and Rain (Michelle). So to make things direct and simple, Ivan and Shou Kang love Rachel, Rachel and Sabrina love Ivan, and Michelle has a secret crush on Shou Kang.

- Xiong Bai Tao (Sek Sau) the big psycho. He was the one who caused Sabrina nightmares. Ivan keeps protecting Sabrina from him, therefore the two become arch rivals.

- Oscar's evil 2nd uncle keeps trying to sow discord between Oscar and Ivan for his own benefits. Oscar starts to hate his brother really badly and becomes worse and worse?

- Oscar and Kiko's love story: Actually the two are genuinely in love. However, Oscar knows that Shou Kang does not like him. He lies that he is just cheating on Kiko to annoy Shou Kang. Unfortunately, Kiko hears that and misunderstands that what Oscar said is true. She is heartbroken as she has given a lot for the relationship. She quarreled with her family and is also pregnant with Oscar's child. Anyway, not to worry, the two have quite a happy ending.

- Shan Yin (Myolie) is a mentally challenged girl. She has been overly protected and finally the family decides to let her learn to be more independent and take care of herself, live like an adult. And she eventually has a love relationship too!

Ok that's about all. If you find this too unclear, you can read the other reviews for a clearer picture of the story. GF is 45 episodes long. Illustrating every detail would drive me crazy!

General Comments:
I do not really understand why this series hasn't been getting really good comments. To me, the theme is not very original. However, the storyline is still interesting, not too draggy and most of the performances were great! You can also see a group of new generation artistes slowly improving for the better (Raymond Lam, Michelle yip, Tavia Yeung, Myolie Wu etc.)

The Performances/Characters:

Gallen Lo's Ivan
Let's start off with the main character of the show. Many people say that his character is 'too good to be true?, but who cares? I like Ivan very much! In fact, Gallen's portrayal of Ivan made me believe that there is such a person in the world. He is nice to EVERYONE, both his brothers (the real one and the foster one), both women around him (the one he truly loves and the one he feels responsible to take care of) and of course, his cute little sister. Ivan and Yin Yin always have very heart-warming conversations together. Every time you see Ivan, you can feel that there is a lot of pressure, thoughts going on inside him, even though he does not talk much. He always talks in a very calm manner. However, in one of the court scenes (I think it's the one about Xiong Bai Tao's murder), he breaks down and all the emotions gush out, even though he isn't telling the truth. And some time later his break-up scene with Jessica is also heart-wrenching. At that episode, my heart truly melted! To many people Ivan's role was simple to play as it was just a ?plain good man?. But to me, it was a very complicated role. The pressure, the guilt (especially when he looks at Rachel), the determination (to change Oscar), the disappointment... there are just too many to list. Gallen has certainly put up a wonderful performance, a nice wrapping up of his TVB career.

Jessica Hsuan's Rachel
She plays a lawyer who is very independent, capable and most importantly, self-righteous. Rachel loves Ivan, but is constantly held back by whether Ivan is a good guy or a bad guy and whether Ivan loves another woman, Sabrina.

Well, is there anything much to say about her? Even though I preferred Jessica's performance MUCH more than Anne, I think Sabrina had a nicer character than Rachel. At least Sabrina never doubts Ivan as a person. Even while knowing that Ivan loves Rachel more, she is still willing to sacrifice anything for him. As for Rachel, all you can see is her being confused, angry, disappointed etc. But anyway, though she's not as 'saint-like' as Ivan, she is a more realistic character. This Anne-Jessica-Gallen love triangle really reminds me of the Anne-Jessica-Louis one in DIF4. Both had the same 2 women, both guys were one of TVB's most popular actors (at different times), and in both serials, Anne would be the one who was willing to do anything for her man and Jessica would be the headstrong one with a mind of her own. Anne would also be the one booed by most audiences and Jessica would be the one with all the supporters in the world.

But this time in GF, many people hated Rachel for using Shou Kang as a ?life buoy?, but at least I think she did consider being with Shou Kang for the rest of her life as she initially believed that she could forget about Ivan. Can't totally be blamed. However, I would very much prefer the ending to be like Gallen with Anne and Jessica with Deric. (I enjoyed Deric's character) At least that implies that hard work and patience do pay off even though that person might not love you that much at first. It's not ?fate? or ?love-at-first-sigh? that rules the whole world.

As for Jessica's performance, I would say that it's good. Well it might be nothing new, nothing too challenging, but that doesn't make Jessica's hard work lose any significance. In my opinion, her most enjoyable performance was the wilful and petty Wu Ting Fang in A Step Into The Past. But Jessica as a sophisticated female lawyer is also not bad at all! In fact she did very well and was very convincing, and I loved the way she speaks in court and to her friends. I think she is one of the TVB actresses who possesses the most charisma. Also, Jessica looked really pretty in this serial. Her hairstyle was so nice. Well a bit of a minus for her stick-like figure. But her big face makes her look less skinny, which is quite a good thing.

Deric Wan's Zhong Shou Kang

Deric plays a smart, righteous but also hilarious cop in here. Really funny when he starts bull-shitting and with that irritating strand of hair hanging in front of his forehead. I was laughing really hard when he told Raymond that his English name was actually "Richard". What Rubbish! I guess he was the only means of comic relief over here. This poor guy gave Rachel his whole heart, only to realize that ?love cannot be forced?. I wonder why Rachel was never touched by him and why her love for Ivan never changed. I thought Deric deserved Rachel no less than Ivan, just like how Sabrina deserved Ivan no less than Rachel. But oh well, since Rachel and Ivan's love happened to be so strong, too bad for them! Anyway, enjoyable and credible performance from Deric after his come-back. Thumbs up.

Michelle Yip's Rain

Rain is Rachel's sister, Deric's colleague, who has a secret crush on him for. Despite many people's criticism, I thought Rain was a very sweet girl! Ok, it was a good thing her love for Deric was not reciprocated as these two do NOT match. I found her very sweet and cute and at least she was more decisive than her sister. But anyway, my praises are just for the character itself. Michelle Yip's acting can STILL be considered natural, but her acting STYLE is just not very acceptable. All the pouting, glaring and the limited expressions she can have. Even in her breakthrough series like Eternal Happiness and Lofty Waters Verdant Bow, you can still very often see those comic expressions. Ok, maybe LWVB was slightly better when she was being ?cool?. Michelle has a very likeable face and it's quite a pity that this is how she is faring. Maybe a cool, mature type of role would suit her much better. In Lost in The Chamber Of Love and A Network Love Story, I thought she was pretty good.

Anne Heung's Sabrina

I had mentioned about her quite a bit above, so I do not feel like repeating myself. To make things simple, a very good character (I was touched by her sleeping with Xiong Bai Tao to obtain the crown) but not a very good performance. Anxious, sad, afraid, happy, she more or less looks the same. I used to think she was quite pretty but her hairstyle (the fringe!) in here was so horrid that I started having doubts. Well that's all I have to say about her.

So, what's the final decision?

Judging from characters alone, I thought it would have been much better if Ivan ends up with Sabrina and Shou Kang with Rachel. But I'm glad TVB did otherwise because the best chemistry comes from Ivan and Rachel. You can see the sparks between them. Good chemistry! Thumbs up again!

Now let's move to the other characters...

Raymond Lam's Oscar

Why does everyone hate him? Raymond is in fact my favourite TVB actor! But that was after his more recent series, so no bias here. Actually, even before I became a fan of his, I was already furiously defending him from all my friends? booing. He was just too young, too immature and after the car accident, it was so natural for him to feel that the uncle was the only one whom he could trust. I felt really sad for him when he cried as he thought that Kiko (Tavia) really went to abort their baby. Well, putting that aside, I found him SO likeable when he first appeared and before he turned bad. He and Gallen together were nice to watch and he was pretty nice to his sister Yin Yin as well. Ok, this character did get a little TOO BAD, but he did change, didn't he?

I think Raymond did really well at the ending part, when he just found out that his uncle was bad. He slowly walked to his unconscious brother. Just a couple of heartbeats, I could sense him figuring out that Ivan has always been so good to him, feeling remorse and also feeling anxious and afraid, unsure of how he can get out of that fix. For a new star, his performances were credible and even though he was kind of evil, I think he possesses a very charismatic voice. Ok, maybe he overacted a little at the part when he almost went crazy hating his brother. I was giggling a little when he sprinted up and down the car park. But anyway, Raymond Lam Rocks.

Tavia Yeung's Kiko

Tavia is becoming famous less quickly than other new actresses like Myolie Wu and Michelle Yip. But slow and steady wins the race! She is in fact, my favourite out of the three female newbies. I think her features are the nicest, resembling both Maggie Cheung and Kristy Yeung. Too bad, her hairstyle kind of sucked in Golden Faith. I liked her characters in Whatever it Takes and Vigilant Force very much. Well, back to Golden Faith, Tavia was kind of cheated of a better role. This role here was way too small. Her relationship with Raymond here was more 'teenager-ish? than Gallen's love line. Despite the criticism, I thought these two had rather good chemistry and looked good together as well. In fact, Raymond-Tavia seems to have fared better than Raymond-Michelle, in Eternal Happiness and Lofty Waters, that's in my opinion. I hope they would be paired up together more often.

Myolie Wu's Yin Yin

The last highlight is Myolie Wu playing the mentally challenged sister of Gallen. Well, Yin Yin always seems so stupid but her amazing ability to differentiate right from wrong (even better than Oscar and the mum) seems a little too unbelievable. I am not too agreeable of letting her have a love story as well, and some more, with another mentally challenged guy. Are there SO many mentally challenged people around? I think it's rather lame. Maybe just how she grew to be more independent and her relationship with her family would be enough.

Well, putting the storyline aside, I cannot deny that Myolie did an excellent job for her role. She is one of the Miss HKs who are best in acting. The other good one was Kenix Kwok, which was ages ago. The other Miss HKs either take some time to improve, or they never do. I read in some other review, about how real Myolie made Yin Yin. All her little actions, the details, they're just too good. She seems so natural when she talks to Gallen. Yeah I've noticed that too. Myolie Wu certainly has the potential to be one of TVB's biggest stars, like Raymond Lam.

The others:
There are many other character in the show whom I would not be able to talk about in detail, but they are worth mentioning.

Paul Chun - his character died halfway through but as usual, wonderful performance.

The Mum/Mrs Ting - I found her very elegant even at that old age. I found her charisma in no way inferior to that of Lisa Wang's in ATE.

Sek Sau - This guy is a good actor, but definitely not cut out to be a villain. In fact, he was rather amusing. Why be afraid of him? Just ring up the mental hospital?

The evil uncle - Not bad at all! The real villain of the series, very convincing. However, I do find him and his wife together, letting out that evil smirk, a little comical.

Anyway, my verdict is, do NOT miss this series if it's on TV. If you are rich, go ahead and rent it, but you must be really rich because 45 episodes are really long. Golden Faith has quite a simple theme but it's very touching and meaningful. Do give it a try, it was one of TVB's greatest productions of 2002 after all!

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