Point of No Return


Reviewed by: sehseh

December 21, 2003

Rating: five

Cast:
Damien Lau as Chow Ming Hin
Angie Chiu as Ng Yuk Hing
Julian Cheung as Chow Tin Ci
Charmaine Sheh as Ho Seung Hei
Belinda Hamnett as Loh Bik Kei
Sammul Chan as Chen Kwok Bong
Lui San as Lee De Yung

Episodes: 30

Plot:

Point Of No Return (PONR) is basically a love story set in the 1920s revolving around four main characters: Damien, Angie, Julian and Charmaine. Damien (Chow Ming Hin) dedicated his lifetime to run his family's shipping business, Kwong Wan Hong. In order to save his family business from going bankrupt, he married Lui San (Lee De Yung) even though his true love was his servant and trusted assistant, Angie (Ng Yuk Hing). Lui San was resentful of Angie?s presence in their life, even though Angie's relationship with Damien was platonic. Despite being constantly harassed by Lui San, Angie continued to stick with Damien through thick and thin, and eventually became his second wife. When Damien thought he could finally achieve happiness in his life, news of his liver cancer struck him?

Julian (Tin Ci) was Damien's only son. Pampered and spoiled, he grew up into an immature brat who only knew how to squander his family fortune, hence the name ?Bai Ga Zai?. He spent his time pulling pranks on his classmates with two buddies, played by John Tang and Auguste Kwan respectively. He met his match in Charmaine (Ho Seung Hei), a poor girl whose family collected manure for three generations. At first they were enemies, until one of Julian's pranks causes Charmaine to break up with her cheating boyfriend (Kevin Cheng). Feeling remorseful, Julian set himself to heal Charmaine, falling madly in love with her in the process. Julian?s mother (Lui San) hated Charmaine because she was too poor and also ? she thought Angie played Cupid, and used any means to separate them. Charmaine then realized how complicated Julian's family was, and they could never really have a future together. At the same time, the appearance of Julian's childhood friend; the beautiful Belinda (Loh Bik Kei) and a mysterious gentle doctor Sammul (Chen Kwok Bong) increased the distance between them?

Amid this complicated love triangles was the struggle within the shipping company and Chow family. Julian found himself embarking on a journey of growing up, meeting a lot of failures on the way, and finally transforming into the responsible and capable businessman his father wanted him to be.


Characters:

Damien Lau as Chow Ming Hin

Chow Ming Hin was a man of little words but many aspirations. He dedicated his life to run the shipping company; sacrificing his own happiness in the process. Outwardly, he seemed like a domineering and aggressive man, but deep down inside he was kind and caring. He finally was able to marry his childhood sweetheart, but his world came crashing down when he realized he didn?t have much time left due to his liver cancer. An experienced veteran actor, Damien was the pulling force of PONR. He stole the show every time he appeared on the screen. Audiences can feel his happiness, anguish, sadness and helplessness through his turbulent life. Definitely thumbs up for this great actor!

Performance rating: 5/5

Angie Chiu as Ng Yuk Hing

Kind, gentle, and intelligent, Ng Yuk Hing remained faithfully by Damien's side till the last moment. She was loved by the Chow household, but hated by Damien?s wife Lui San (De Yung) because Damien loved her more than his own wife. Though she looked fragile and soft, she showed the audience her brave and determined side. After Damien?s death, the burden of shipping business and fostering Julian weighed on her shoulders alone. Angie portrayed her character well, though sometimes her acting could be a little stiff. Her crying scenes were wonderfully done; audiences could be easily touched by her tears. Her costumes were very beautiful and elegant in this series.

Performance rating: 4.5/5


Julian Cheung as Chow Tin Ci

Growing up as the only child of Chow family made Tin Ci into a spoiled and childish young man. He didn?t appreciate the value of money, how hard his father had sacrificed to give him a comfortable life. His mischievous antics only made his grandparents love and pampered him more. He bumped into Charmaine (Ho Seung Hei), and it was practically hate at first sight for them. He was mean towards Charmaine, but behind that prankster mask was a compassionate heart. He felt sorry he cost Charmaine her first love (Kevin) and secretly tried to heal Charmaine, causing a lot of uproar and funny scenes along the way. He fell deeply in love with Charmaine, despite objections from his family. Through the influences of three important woman in his life, Charmaine, Belinda (Loh Bik Kei) and Angie, he slowly and painstakingly matured. This character was actually the REAL star of PONR, because it tells the story of his maturity.

What more can I say about Julian?s acting? It was perfect! He portrayed Tin Ci to perfection! Audiences grow along with him from the childish, immature brat to a love struck youth and finally into a mature, responsible man. You will be touched and appreciative of his character's undying affection for Charmaine. He showed how talented and flexible he was from comedic to emotional scenes, bringing out the depth of his character. His chemistry with Charmaine was clearly present throughout this series. All his costumes were well tailored; especially his light blue suit and his beige cashmere. I absolutely love all his crying scenes, as they were the best in the whole series! They were so natural, so heart breaking that audiences can feel his every sorrow and frustration. If this series was released earlier or later till next year, Julian definitely stands a greater chance in being awarded Favorite TVB Actor of the Year, in comparison to his role as Yeung Gwong in "Take My Word For It".

Performance: 5/5

Charmaine Sheh as Ho Seung Hei

Naﶥ and hardworking, Seung Hei grew up in a poor family in contrast to Julian. Her family collected manure for three generation and was looked down by the Guangzhou community. She was made a target of Julian and gang?s pranks after she caused him to be punished by his father. She had a crush on Kevin, but Kevin only exploited her to get money from her. She was devastated when Kevin left her for another girl, drowning her sorrows in alcohol. She was suspicious of Julian's intentions for helping her, thus she was really mean and obnoxious to him all the time. Eventually, Julian?s sincerity touched her (with a little help from Damien and Angie playing cupid) and she fell in love with him. Their relationship was tested as Charmaine realized they were far too different, and she could never fit into his family. It broke her heart to see Julian suffer, so she decided to end their relationship once and for all. The appearance of a knight in shining armor, Sammul (Chen Kwok Bong), comforted her and she gradually moved on with her life.

Undeniably, because Charmaine was my favorite actress there will be some partiality in my comments, but she was really talented and portrayed Seung Hei's character well. She has the most varied costumes in PONR, her red checkered dress being my favorite. Her crying skills were put to good use in PONR, as her emotional scenes were touching and convincing. Her comedic skills improved a lot in PONR, totally charming as the devious but adorable Seung Hei. Similar to Julian, her character also progress from a naﶥ girl into a mature, sensible woman, and it?s a pity this series was aired for only two weeks before TVB's 36th Anniversary, as she delivered a more powerful performance here than her role as Princess Cheung Ping in ?Perish in the Name of Love?. Overall, great job!

Performance: 5/5


Belinda Hamnett as Loh Bik Kei

Loh Bik Kei was Julian's childhood friend. Friendly and optimistic, she was popular among those who came in contact with her. She realized that she was in love with Julian when she began to feel envious of his affections for Charmaine. At first she secretly wished that Julian and Charmaine would break up sooner or later due to their differences. She was frustrated that Julian's love for Charmaine was stronger than she'd assumed, and resorted to saying words that made Charmaine feel incompatible with Julian. After Charmaine broke up with Julian, she tried her best to console Julian. She was hurt to see Julian suffering. In time, her love for him overcame her jealousy and she tried her best to support him at the lowest moments in his life. Honestly, this character was dangerously close to being hated by audiences, but her actions of supporting Julian touched me, I couldn?t help but feel sorry for her when she become crippled trying to save Julian. Belinda did an above average job portraying Bik Kei; she managed to bring out some depth of this character, her weaknesses mainly from minor glitches in pronouncing her dialogue. Her emotional scenes were a bit too forced. She improved towards the ending, showing the audience how mature and brave her character was by encouraging Julian to pursue Charmaine.

Performance: 3.5/5

Sammul Chan as Chen Kwok Bong

As the series progressed, I find it harder to believe this kind of man actually existed in this world. Bong was every girl's dream; handsome, kind, gentle, educate and caring. Bong was a young doctor who dreamed of helping poor and sick people. At first he was sympathetic to Charmaine after seeing her depressed and ill from her break-up with Julian. He showed Charmaine the brighter, more meaningful side of life by encouraging her to write her feelings on the walls and taking her along on his charity trips to remote villages. As time passed, they began to develop feelings for each other. In contrast to Belinda?s character, Bong was more generous and free of jealousy. I felt sorry that his character had to die, because he really loved Charmaine even though Charmaine loved Julian more than him. Bong gave the impression to the audience that he was a considerate and understanding husband whose dying wish for Charmaine was to search for her true love and happiness (that?s why I find this character hard to believe!). Sammul did a good job as Bong, though I think the script was being unfair to him because they did not develop his character as much as Belinda?s. It would be more interesting to see more depth in his character, as Sammul is one of the rising new talents in TVB. You can feel his more polished acting skills in ?Survivor?s Law?.

Performance: 4/5

My Verdict:

Favorite characters:
1. Julian Cheung
2. Charmaine Sheh
3. Belinda Hamnett

Least Favorite characters:
1. Third uncle (good-for-nothing rat)
2. Grandmother (why does she always believed other people's malicious words?)
3. Kevin Cheng (totally despicable jerk)
4. Lui San (I didn?t really hate her; I even understand her jealous rages. Blame Damien for not solving their relationship problem clearly. Her only weakness was she was blinded by hatred for Angie, causing her to do many stupid actions. She redeemed herself by staying with the Chow family till the end)

Favorite couple: Julian and Charmaine ? they still have great chemistry together even though this was their 4th partnership.

Favorite scenes:

1.Every scene with Julian and Charmaine together ? from the funny arguments, the tender moments to the poignant scenes. Marvellous!
2.Damien's crying scene on his way back to Guangzhou from Shanghai; he had to accept the reality that he was dying.
3.When Angie asked Damien to tell her face-to-face that he didn?t want to marry her anymore ? great acting!
4.Julian's first date with Charmaine ? he had his hair combed in the parted-in-the-middle style! So funny!
5.Charmaine's birthday celebration; the kissing scene was so sweet!
6.Julian starved himself because his family objected him and Charmaine?s relationship; he was singing opera, sobbing while Charmaine was under his window, crying along.
7.Every scene of Julian crying; when he realized the writings on the walls were not meant for him, when he saw Sammul kissing Charmaine; when he reminisced his memories with Charmaine? (you want to hug and comfort him)
8.The raining scene outside the church ? Julian and Charmaine still had feelings for each other; Julian was caressing her face ? their gazes on each other were so sizzling!
9.When Belinda told Julian the reason why she didn?t want to learn to walk; because she loves him too much and wanted to keep him by his side forever. Then she encouraged him to pursue Charmaine again, his first and true love, before saying that she didn?t need him anymore because she could walk by herself now ? what a great friend!
10.The great ending ? so touching I cried heaps. Happy ending!


So?was it worth watching?

Yes, definitely! This 30-episode serial was entertaining and also heart-wrenching; it had a well balanced script despite some minor plot holes in the Julian-Charmaine-Sammul relationship. I think it?s more convincing that Charmaine still had some feelings for Julian if she at least looked back in the scenes where Julian asked her to advise his aunt. The only hint that she may have some feelings was when she rejected Julian's begging not to leave at the school; she cried silently in the car. I disagree that the series fell apart after Damien died; the purpose of his death served as a trigger for the following events, and most important of all, Julian's character growth as Tin Ci is the real ?Sai Guan Dai Siu?. Definitely worth renting!

A sequel? I would like to see a sequel revolving the next generation ? Tin Yan (Julian?s baby brother) and Julian?s children (he had a son in the ending) along with Tin Ci and Seung Hei. It is not necessary for Julian and Charmaine to reprise their roles, because the storyline for PONR is good, though I look forward for any possibilities of them in a same series in the future.

Official Site:
http://tvcity.tvb.com/drama/point_of_no_return/story.index.html


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