Chinese Title: "Tong Sum Fung Bo Zi Ka Ho Yuet Yen"
Theme song: "Mo Sum Hoi Lei" - Susanna Kwan (Don't Intend to Hurt You - opening); "Ngoi But Gao" - Raymond Lam (Love Not Enough - interlude)
No. of episodes: 40
Lee Si Kei as Hor Ma
Ha Yu as Jo Bao
Susana Kwan as Ah Sa/Sa Yee
Michelle Yim as Yan Hong
Wayne Lai as Lin Zi Yong
Linda Chung as Yu So Chau/Sum Lui
Moses Chan as Kam Wing Ka (Ah Ka)
Raymond Lam as Kam Wing Ho (Goon Ga Jai)
Tavia Yeung as Kam Wing Yuet
Chris Lai as Kam Wing Yuen
Fala Chen as Kam Wing Hing
Vincent as Kam Wing Zhong
Kate Tsui as Ka Mei
Bosco Wong as Ling Ji Sun/ Ling B
Astrid Chan as Eliza
Louis Yuen as Yan Chee
Claire Yiu as Wing Lam
I am not ashamed to say that I watched this series purely for bandwagon reasons. Despite being one of the few who was less than impressed with the overhyped Heart of Greed, I knew this was a series not to be missed, given the hugely talented cast with every popular TVB actor under the sun. But I do have one small question - how many people in this cast (or even the general Hong Kong public) even know what "resonance" means?
Moonlight Resonance (MR) comes back to confuse us all by making a convoluted storyline even more convoluted by inviting every single cast member from HOG I and adding a few more to the party. Hor Ma and Jo Bao were once married with six children and owned a mooncake bakery business. They divorced after Jo Bao began an affair with Hong, a worker in the bakery. When they divorced, a court decision "divided" the six children and sent three to each household - Ka (the oldest), Yuen (5th) and Zhong (youngest) went to the mega-rich Jo Bao household, while Ho (2nd - nicknamed Goon Ga Jai), Yuet (an adopted daughter), and Hing (a mute) to the poor Hor Ma household. Predictably, the three kids who grew up in the Jo Bao household ended up being educated and successful, while the three kids who grew up with Hor Ma never went to university and spend their days helping out in the one bakery that Hor Ma owns. Despite this fact, the Hor Ma household is actually a tighter-knit, happier family. Lesson #1 from MR - money can't buy happiness (isn't this some song lyric?).
Ah Hong has a daughter from a previous marriage, Chau, who has a sibling-like relationship with all the Kam kids except for Goon Ga Jai, who she had some kind of puppy-love thing with when both were teenagers. Chau returns from studying abroad in England and has become a doctor. She gets stuck in a love triangle with GGJ and Ling B, another doctor who works at her hospital. Of course, Chau ends up with GGJ. Lesson #2 - history means something when deciding between two guys.
Other people peppering the plot include the super-annoying Ma Ma, Jo Bao's mother who despites Hor Ma and supports Hong; the even more annoying Sa Yee, who finds pleasure screeching at anyone bothering to listen to her; and Ka Mei, Sa Yee's daughter who first dates Ka until getting together with Yuen.
I'm not going to spoil the ending for you, as this is still a new series, but suffice to say that the ending is similar to HOG's.
Evaluation of Cast and Performances
Why must he always portray these stupid, cowardly men? I really want to see him in a role like Damian Lau's in The Point of No Return and see how he fares. But anyway, he stopped his exaggerated hyena laughing and turns in a much better performance here than in HOG. However, I keep thinking he's missing that extra something... maybe he just needs to get away from the whole HOG stuff and portray a well-written character for once.
Donning the absolute worst haircut and scariest makeup known to man, I could not take Michelle seriously for the first half of the series. Her whole look belonged in a horror movie. Why did wardrobe give her this look? Poor woman. Normally she looks like she didn't age past 40 and here she is looking like the female version of Dracula. Her performance here is commendable. I knew she could depict a villain from watching The Brink of Law, and in MR she turns in another fine performance. Of course, I thought it was completely stupid that her character reverted to a good person in the last 10 minutes of the series, but that's just bad writing.
If you thought Flora Chan's Belle from Triumph in the Skies and Myolie Wu's Eleven from War of In-Laws were annoying, brace yourself for Susanna Kwan's Aunt Sa, who is, quite possibly, the most annoying character in Asian entertainment history (and this says a lot, judging from the amount of series I've watched). I understand that Aunt Sa is supposedly a classless drama queen, but watch Susanna with your volume on mute and you'll know what I mean when I say Susanna delivered a super-annoying, deer-in headlights performance. I feel sorry for this woman because something tells me she can act, but would someone please give her a character who isn't mercilessly irritating?! This woman can sing, though, that's for sure.
Lee Si Kei
Same problem as Moses Chan - she gives the same interpretation of basically the same character from HOG. She comes off as less snotty than in HOG (but still as preachy as ever), but she severely lacks chemistry with the actors who play her children, which make the whole "I respect my mom sooooo much" lesson kind of forced in this series.
Maybe he didn't get the memo that MR is a HOG sequel in name only (it only has the same background music and cast), because Moses' performance basically echoed his interpretation of Triple D in HOG. And though I liked his Triple D, I was hoping he would offer something different in his portrayal of Ka. Sadly, he didn't. He doesn't have much chemistry with Tavia Yeung, either. A below average performance.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but this guy needs a breakthrough character. He always gives compelling and solid performances and he is the most versatile out of TVB's twenty-something actors, but I want to see this guy play a villain. He's done everything under the sun except play a villain. I don't want him as the villain-turned-good (even he's done this before). I want Ray to tackle the b_stard-to-the-end, like Sammul Chan's character from The Price of Greed. I am positive he can do it.
As for his performance in MR, I'm getting tired of repeating how good this guy is. His performance reminds me of his Ben from Survivor's Law (one of my favourite performances from Ray) - controlled yet emotional, laid-back yet compelling. He has chemistry with Linda Chung and they actually look like a couple - which says a lot b/c I've hated every Ray-TVB starlet pairing before Linda came onto the scene. Anyway, he gives GGJ a sense of wholeness as a character - a great performance. Rumour has it this series is going to give him his much-overdue TVB Best Actor Award, and he'll be one of the very few over the last few years who will actually deserve it.
Is it just me or is Tavia looking more and more like a drag queen as time passes? I'm not sure what it is, but something about her facial features has changed since she started out as a Maggie Cheung lookalike. Is it her makeup? Maybe she's lost weight? Maybe it's the new HD technology that's amplifying all the actors' flaws (I could spot a lot of Ray's pores, for example). In any case, her face has gotten a lot more angular and almost masculine.
Don't get me wrong - Tavia is a very good actress and her Yuet is strong and determined. I hope TVB continues promoting her, because lord knows she's the only actress under 30 being promoted who actually went to acting school instead of pageants.
Super photogenic and though I can't stand her in interviews, Fala can add her name to the very short list of pageant queens who can act. Her performance is good because she takes on the role of a mute here, so she needs to emote without talking (which means the emotion has to come from her face and her eyes). Best scene was definitely the wedding where she tearfully thanks her family. Zero chemistry with the guy who plays her husband though. She comes off as a total b_tch in interviews, but when you've got senior management promoting you like no tomorrow, who needs fans?
I will say here right now that I've become a quick fan of Linda since HOG...more so as a person than as an actress (for now, anyway). She comes off as very genuine, very girly (but not whiny) and sincerely kind-hearted. For those of you who have watched the youtube clip of Ray being asked to prank call her and her reaction - you will understand why she is very well-liked by people in the business. As for those who say she's won awards or promotion because she's so obedient - that's not her problem, it's TVB's for rewarding obedience rather than performance. It doesn't mean Linda isn't a sincerely kind-hearted girl. Oh, how I wish she and Ray were actually together.
After watching HOG, I would say she has potential as an actress too. But MR is a step down from her performance in HOG. She's still girly and sweet, but her character is not as well-written as Seung Joi Sum from HOG, plus her crying scenes her are more whiny. I just can't stand stupid characters like her - being super nice and friendly despite being the daughter of one conniving b_tch. TVB tends to write a lot of these dumb characters, and Chau is just another one. She's also one stupid girl (unlike SJS) when it comes to love. Whereas SJS was romantic yet decisive, Chau is just some blind girl who couldn't see what was good for her. She also cries way too much in this series...although that's more of her character's fault than Linda as an actress herself. We know Linda can cry. She needs to take on a tomboy character now, which she's actually doing right now filming another series (she chopped her hair off too... sad).
Linda also had no chemistry with Bosco in here, so I really didn't care about her relationship with Ling B. Her best scene was the one where Chau confronts her mother in the last episode. Linda showed there that she can have a temper onscreen (something missing from her previous performances).
I think I'm the only person who thinks this girl can act, but oh well. She has improved from her first overracting/underracting performances, and in MR she is good in her crying scenes. The problem with her acting is that she tries too hard - it's not a natural thing with her. However, since she's only really been in about 4-5 series, I think she deserves a chance. Her best scene is when she gets whipped by Aunt Sa. She has zero chemistry with Chris Lai, but when you have only 3 scenes with the actor who plays your lover, I guess chemistry shouldn't be expected.
And the others
Uh, yeah... so I forgot about Bosco Wong and Chris Lai. Oops. I guess this says enough about how memorable they were. While Chris Lai gets a less well-written character than in HOG (this seems to be a pattern in MR), Bosco at least gets an interesting one... so the fact that he still isn't memorable as an actor says a lot. I'm getting tired of repeating that Bosco has potential but he isn't living up to it. Will this guy give us something, anything? The Chinese have a proverb that goes something like "if you're not improving, you're getting worse" - seems they were talking about Bosco. Wayne Lai made more of an impression with his 5 scenes than Bosco did with 50.
As for the guy who portrayed Zhong (Vincent something?), he definitely gave the worst performance out of all the cast - he had no facial expressions whatsoever. But this is his first performance, so it may be too early to stick a knife into his premature career. Veteran Chow Chung gave the second worst performance with his overracting and bulgy eyes.
Claire Yiu and Astrid Chan manage to make an impact in this enormous group of actors, while Louis Yuen is starting to get on my nerves (and his pairing with Susanna is beyond creepy). Veteran Lee Heung Kam was fantastic as the b_tchy Ma Ma. If I forgot anyone, sorry, but there are just way too many people in this series.
The Loot Bag
1. Classic "in your face, you stupid b_tch" scenes. The wedding between Hong and Jo Bao when the kids toasted to Hor Ma instead of Hong - I was laughing my a_ _ off at the look on Hong's face. The whipping, the slapping, the pushing old ladies down the stairs. I gotta admit, I love the all-out drama of this series.
2. Good acting. Veteran Ha Yu finally stopped laughing like a crazy hyena, Michelle Yim was fantastic, and some of the young guns (Tavia, Ray, Fala, Linda) deliver. The supporting cast, led by Wayne Lai and the guy who plays Ah Gong, ranged from very good to brilliant.
3. The sibling scenes. You can tell the younger actors get along really well with each other b/c their offscreen friendship translates onscreen.
The Barf Bag
1. The portrayal of the doctor profession in this series wouldn't matter so much if it hadn't been hammered into our minds that Chau and Ling B were doctors. Their story is worse than the god-awful Healing Hands trilogy. At least HH had scenes in an operating room or working with patients. Aside from wearing white coats every now and then, Linda and Bosco don't do anything even remotely related to their profession. Chau is too busy crying in every other scene and Ling B is too busy deciding between two women. I wouldn't wish these two on my worst enemy if they were the last two doctors on the planet.
2. Over-preaching and use of the series in the title. Yes, we know it's called "Ka Ho Yuet Yuen". We can read, though we're not sure you can.
3. No character/plot development. The episode after Ka breaks up with Ka Mei, she goes and decides to marry Yuen. She sure got over that one quickly.
4. Bad hair days, every day. The center part seems to be popular here (Linda and Kate sport it and it ruins their good looks). I've said what I had to say about Michelle Yim's. Bosco's hair doesn't know what it's doing and Chris' looks like an old bag lady's. Vincent's an ugly mullet, and poor Ray needs some product. Were the writers responsible for the hair too?
5. Too many dinner scenes. Good god, it's a miracle they don't weigh 400lbs with all the time they spend eating dinner.
6. The violence. Kids, slapping people and pushing old ladies down the stairs is wrong.
7. Aunt Sa. She should have been whipped like her daughter.
8. Hor Ma - as in the overly preachy, saint-like character. Booooooorrrring.
The Burning Question: Is It Better Than HOG?
The problem with HOG was that the premise made absolutely no sense (2 women sharing the same man and everything was happy). Sure, it had some very well-written characters, some superb acting, and pretty people - but let's not confuse this with a good plot, folks. The ending was also stupid. I was hoping Susana Kwan's character would get killed off. Character self-redemption is booooorrrringgggg.
The problem with MR is a different one. While HOG had at least developed an overarching storyline, MR is basically a bunch of squabbles. So for people who are impatient and cringe at the thought of 40 episodes, this is good news. MR is much like some North American TV shows where squabbles start and get resolved within one episode. Now, for those who prefer at least some sign of a developed plotline, you'll need to look elsewhere... because the writers who wrote this thing clearly have ADD.
On second thought, MR is even worse than North American TV shows - because there is no difference between main and supporting characters here. This is why this series has no plot/character development - because there's not enough time! Everyone has an almost equal amount of scenes.
Through the Grapevine
It's always interesting to hear what actors have to say about each other, so I did a search and this is what I came up with. Straight and verbatim from the actors in interviews:
Ha Yu on who he thinks has the most potential
- Male: "Raymond Lam. He is good-looking and is a talented actor. I think he still needs a few more years to grow and improve, but I think he has the most potential out of the younger actors today".
- Female: "Linda Chung. She is hardworking and such a good and well-behaved girl. If I had a daughter, I hope that she would be as well-behaved as Linda. Linda doesn't gossip and form cliques like many other young actresses today. She just focuses on her work".
Lee Si Kei on Raymond Lam
"I think he's a 14-year-old on the inside. Whenever he doesn't have to film, he sits in the corner and plays video games. I ask him 'Are you a child? Why do you still play video games'? He ignores me and just keeps playing".
Tavia Yeung on Moses Chan and Raymond Lam
"Moses is like a big brother, a good man. Yes, Moses is a good man to the core! I hope one day to find a guy as good as Moses. Ray is a serious professional but also likes to play when it's downtime. He's very rational and like a big brother to me. When I have a problem, I often go to him and he's able to analyze it objectively for me and make recommendations on what I should do. When he works, he comes to the set knowing exactly what he wants to do. He's very mature for his age".
Linda Chung on Tavia Yeung
"My good friends in the entertainment business? Tavia Yeung is one of them. She's a great girl".
Raymond Lam on Linda Chung
"She's funny. Because she grew up overseas, she sometimes messes up her lines in the script because Cantonese isn't her first language. So we end up with a lot of funny NG clips. She's a very kind-hearted girl, very cute." (note: Ray used the term "duk yee" in Cantonese - which is directly translated as 'cute', but more of a girly/kiddy cute rather than the usual way we use cute as in 'pretty'... although he has called her pretty before)
Linda Chung on Raymond Lam
"We're good friends. He's a very good and filial guy and cares about his family and siblings. Like sometimes when we're taking a break filming, he'll run off to buy a purse for his mom".
Michelle Yim on Kate Tsui
"She got so much prettier! In The Brink of Law, she was a somewhat chubby, very cute girl. But since she lost weight, she has been looking a lot more fit and very pretty."
Predictability at Its Best
MR is nominated this year for Best Actor/Actress, Best Supporting Actor/Actress, Most Beloved Male/Female Character, Most Improved Actress, Best Series and probably some others that I can't think of at the moment. And you thought the 2007 TVB awards were a sham.
To Watch or Not To Watch, That is The Question
To be honest, I don't really know what to think of this series. While I love the drama and like the actors, the script is garbage. I can't really decide whether the great scenes and generally good acting make up for the problematic plot. What I am sure I hate is the whole hype around the HOG/MR series, encapsulated in the special finale show. Dinner with the audience in a mall to watch the last episode? The poor actors had to go up on stage like clowns, trying to be funny and most of them can't even speak live. I half expected Stephen Chan to go up on stage with a swinging watch chanting "You will love this series... you... will.. love... this...series!" What a farce TVB has become.
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