Chinese Title: 'Jung Fun Duet Miu' (roughly translates to Fighting for the Last Second)
# of episodes: 30
Marco Ngai Jun Kit as Hau Man Wah
Patrick Tam Yiu Man as Yeung Kai Tung
Alex Fong Jung Sun as Fung Chi Wai
Kevin Cheng Ka Wing as Wong Ka Fai
Yoyo Mung Ka Wai as Pang Wai
Sririta Jensen as Rita
Chatchai Plengpanich as Sam
Fiona Yuen Choi Wan as Vicky
Claire Yiu as Wing
Mandy Cho Man Lei as Maggie
Johnson Lee as Hung Mao (Panda)
Lau Kong as Cheng Kwan/Lee Man Ho
Kwok Hong as Wong Jun Yeung (Wong Sir)
Moses Chan Ho as Luk Yiu Kwok (Luk Sir)
Miki Yeung (from Mini Cookies) as Fung Mei Yan (Yan Yan)
Chris Lai Lok Yi as Dick
Wong Tak Bun as Hau Man Wui
Lok Tat Wah as Hau Man Ying
Really now. All-around great acting (with some minor exceptions), huge budget, collaboration with Thai actors and half of the scenes filmed in Bangkok, you'd think Split Second would be the TVB series to watch. Think again. This series is the perfect example of how a completely illogical plot can fail an otherwise terrific series. Sigh.
Where to begin? 30 years ago drug trafficker Lee Man Ho was shot in the leg by Wong Jun Yeung and fled to Thailand, becoming the nation's all-mightiest triad leader. His son, Hau Man Wah, follows in Daddy's footsteps and becomes Hong Kong's all-mightiest triad leader. They are so famous in the criminal world that basically every cop in both Thailand and Hong Kong want to catch them and throw them behind bars. Tung is Hong Kong's undercover cop who slowly becomes close to Hau Man Wah until his identity gets busted and the latter uses him for his own criminal dealings. Tung has a young daughter named Yiu Yiu by Wing, but does not know she is his daughter until he causes her death. Sam is Thailand's undercover cop and becomes so trusted by Cheng Kwan that he becomes his adopted son. Wong Ka Fai, or Wong Sir (not to be confused with the older Wong Sir who is the Vice-Chief of Police) has around a month to live due to a brain tumour and is determined to make The Big Catch before dying. Fung Chi Wai, the unambitious cop of the bunch, becomes entangled in the whole debacle when Pang Wai, Hau Man Wah's mercilessly annoying girlfriend, falls in love with him. This leads to the death of Fung Sir's daughter, Yan Yan, and various other events stemming from Hau Man Wah's thirst for revenge.
What happens in the end? The death of basically the entire cast à la Burning Flame. Yan Yan and Yiu Yiu as mentioned. Hung Mao, Tung's idiotic 'big brother' in the triad, who is beaten to death by Cheng Kwan's subordinates when he tries to beg for Tung's life. Hau Man Ying, Wah's adopted brother killed by Wah himself. Hau Man Wah, first stabbed then shot by the delusional Pang Wai (doubled tapped by Fung Sir to make sure he's dead). Luk Sir, Hau Man Wah's childhood friend, who became a cop and also shot by Hau Man Wah. Sam, shot by Fung Sir to protect Pang Wai after they murder Hau Man Wah. Cheng Kwan, in his old age after some form of redemption. Wong Ka Fai, obviously due to his terminal illness. Tung, shot by Fung Sir again in order to protect Pang Wai. So who's left? Fung Sir, who ends up going to jail, and some of the secondary cops you see walking around in the series.
Things that make you go 'Huh'?
As mentioned in my foreword, there are so many gaping holes in the plot and so many things that don't make sense that this series ends up totally wasting its potential. Here's a list of those I can remember.
1. Exactly how do Fung Sir and Pang Wai fall in love?! That happens totally out of camera and I personally find it hard to root for them because the audience never gets to see the initial attraction in the relationship.
2. Why didn't Fung Sir send Yan Yan away immediately when threatened by Hau Man Wah? Everyone knows how dangerous the guy is.
3. After Yan Yan's death, how on earth did Fung Sir forgive Pang Wai, much less stay with her? If I were him I'd kill her with my own bare hands for causing my daughter's death.
4. Why does Wong Ka Fai look so healthy when he supposedly has only one month to live? The man belongs on a hospital bed with an IV up his arm.
5. How long did Hau Man Ying's corpse stay on Tung's bed while he discussed the future with Rita and Wing? Surely it would have started stinking after two days!
6. Why did Sam agree to getting shot by Fung Sir? Even if he died Fung Sir would get caught by the 20-odd cops always waiting for him. And why didn't Sam just go to the hospital? He wouldn't have had to die if he just went to the hospital instead of going to the market to buy a flower for the noodle girl.
7. How on earth did Sam stay as an undercover for so long? He gains so much trust from Cheng Kwan that he becomes his adopted son and yet he still can't find evidence against the guy?! Unbelievable!
8. What is it with undercover cops and recording their utmost secrets on tape in this series? Both Tung and Sam do it. Tung is lucky that Wing discovered the tapes and I find it completely ridiculous that she was the only one who did so when Hau Man Wah's gang was hell-bent on catching the '2-5' boy (Cantonese speakers will understand that expression).
9. Yiu Yiu's death. Is Tung really that thick-headed not knowing that carbon monoxide kills?
10. Hung Mao. Watch and you'll understand what I mean.
And so on and so forth.
The one redeeming factor of this series is the acting. Marco Ngai is terrific as the super-intelligent, yet ruthless Hau Man Wah. His blank, yet intimidating facial expression is classic but he doesn't have much to do besides that one expression. And I wanted to slap his The Aviator sunglasses off his face. Kevin Cheng effectively conveys the determinedness of his character and looks calm and cool throughout the whole series, though he never strays far from being cool. I still think Hard Fate was his best work to date. Both Chatchai Plengpanich and Patrick Tam are phenomenal in their roles as the moles; they deserve awards for their work in here. Alex Fong gives what I feel is his best performance to date; he has finally learned to emote properly in a role that is a diversion from his previous stone-cold ladies' man characters. Moses Chan is appropriately deadpan, while Mandy Cho gives an atrociously wooden performance. Johnson Lee, Fiona Yuen, and Claire Yiu are to be generally applauded for their supporting performances, and Fiona looks extremely pretty in here. Sririta Jensen is passable, while Yoyo Mung does well with the help of her chemistry with Alex Fong. Miki Yeung is surprisingly effective and likeable as the teenaged Yan Yan, while veterans Lau Kong and Kwok Hong obviously deliver some great acting.
The premise is fantastic yet the execution is an utter failure. Gritty crime, intelligent cops and undercover moles always provide a strong foundation and yet Split Second is all packaging with no substance. Yes, it plays like a movie, with a fast-paced, jam-packed storyline and strong characterization and yet, I found something completely illogical or confusing in every single episode. I am disappointed that this series showed such promise and yet completely wasted its potential, especially in the anti-climatic last few episodes where, as my mother commented, everyone started dying for the sake of dying. The character of Pang Wai, next to the plot, also fails this series. She is so irritatingly clingy, so very annoying, so unbelievably illogical and inconsistent that I really wanted to slap her silly off the screen every time she appeared. Honestly, if Pang Wai was taken out of the storyline completely, I would actually understand the plot more. Watch and you will understand my frustration.
To Watch or not to Watch, That is the Question
Riveting performances all around, so watch if you are in the mood for good acting (something sorely missing from some recent TVB series). However, be forewarned: don't expect to understand what's going on.
Bu Bu Jing Xinstarring Cecilia Liu Shi Shi, Kevin Cheng, Nicky Wu, Yuan Hong
The New Adventure Of Chor Lau Heung (DVD, English subs)starring Miu Kiu Wai, Barbara Yung