La Femme Desperado


Reviewed by: kaysmile

May 23, 2006

Rating: four

A surprisingly refreshing and innovative series produced by TVB. Very feminist, but funny and interesting at the same time.

Starring:

Sheren Tang as Hilda
Melissa Ng as Go Ling
Michael Tse as Ah Man
Raymond Lam as Siu Chai
Kate Tsui as Ida
Kenneth Ma as Ah Lik
...and a nice return of Leung Ka Yan ("Return of the Condor Heroes" '83's Guo Jing!) as Go Ling's anti-feminist dad.

Overview:

This story follows the lives of two women: Melissa Ng (Go Ling), the typical traditional woman dominated by the men in her life. Contrasted to her is Sheren Tang (Hilda), the epitome of the modern, successful and independent woman. They work for a company called Pluto and become great friends despite their different personalities. Their love lives are complicated; Melissa is paired with a man seven years her junior, Raymond Lam (Siu Chai), who loved her ever since he was 13. Because of their age difference, they face many problems, such as their family's opposition and their own internal struggles. Sheren, meanwhile, has a one-night stand with Melissa's ex-husband, Michael Tse (Ah Man), who is seen as a real jerk at first. However, their bond grows and we find out than Ah Man is really a kind person.

Everything is very nicely intertwined in this series. Not too much time is spent on any one subplot, making it flow very nicely.

Performances:
Best female performance has to go to Sheren Tang, who aced this role with charisma, charm, and real depth in feeling. Melissa comes in a close second as the wimpy but not completely useless woman.

Best male performance goes to not the main male lead, Raymond, but a long-underappreciated actor, Michael Tse. Michael did great as the chauvinistic, cheating husband who gradually changes into a responsible and caring father.

Most of the supporting cast did well also. I especially liked Pluto's wife, played by Jacqueline Law. She did great as the somewhat evil but manipulated and helpless wife.

Kate Tsui and Kenneth Ma had no chemistry whatsoever. Also, I recently get the feeling that in series, Kenneth tries to act a little "cute" from his slight pout to the expressions in his voice, which makes his acting a little annoying. Kate was okay as a newcomer, but tended to overact at times. She also had trouble conveying different emotions.

Leung Ka Yan was hilarious as the archetype of a traditional “Manly-Man”. Hope to see him more in future series!

Least Favorite Characters:

One thing I love about "La Femme Desperado" is its ability to show different sides of a character. Unlike most TVB series, where the main leads are saints, every character in this series is flawed.

In the beginning:
My least favorite character was probably everybody's least favorite character: Ah Man (Michael Tse), the cheater, user, and liar. Who wouldn't hate him for cheating on his wife and bringing her home? Who wouldn't feel sorry for his wife?

In the middle:
I really did not like Go Ling (Melissa) in the middle, around episodes 14-15. She already misunderstood her "sister", Hilda, before for asking her brother to borrow seeds. Go Ling was easily manipulated. Despite everything that she thought Hilda did (i.e. not promote Raymond, have an affair with Pluto, forcing her to fire her dad - which is her dad's own fault, by the way), that did not give her the right to betray her. That part made me really angry to the point where I was never quite able to forgive her (in the series of course. Nothing against Melissa).

Towards the end:
I disliked Siu Chai (Raymond) at the end. His wife needed him and pleaded with him twice not to go to Japan, and a good husband should stay home with his wife when she is desperately in need of him. Yet he goes off to Japan, with the girl who he knows has feelings for him, no less. He was inconsiderate: he knew that Crystal made Go Ling feel threatened, but continued to spend time with her anyway.

Most favorite character: Final verdict
Surprise, surprise: I felt myself loving Michael Tse's character the most at the end! His scenes with Hilda and the baby were so touching. What I love the most about him is that even though he changed, he still retained some shrewdness in him (when he wanted to marry Crystal for her money and keep Hilda.) I love this flawed, but inherently kind person. He treated Ah Lik (Kenneth) like a brother. I wound up from hating him (at the beginning) to loving him and rooting for him.

The part where Michael leaves Pluto and "steals" their client; I felt that Hilda and co. were unfair to blame it on him. He was the one who secured the client, Jimmy, in the first place. I was rooting for Ah Man ever since ... hmm ... I don't know. That's another strength of "La Femme Desperado": the gradual change in characters is so subtle that it isn't distinctly perceivable.

I definitely recommend LFD and it deserves its high ratings. It is interesting, funny, witty, and a great series.


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