Survivor's Law

Reviewed by: Bridget

November 05, 2003

Rating: four-point-five

Year: 2003
Theme Song: Raymond Lam "Forget the Pain"
# of episodes: 25

Raymond Lam Fung as Lok Bun (Ben)
Myolie Wu Hung Yee as Chung Ching Ling (Ling Ling)
Sammul Chan Gin Fung as Cheuk Wai Ming (Vincent)
Bernice Liu Bik Yee as Cheung Si Ga (Jessica)

Supporting Cast:
Lok Ying Kwan as Hung Ding Wai (Homer)
Ruby Wong as Kwok Yim Na (Angela)
Juno Mak Jun Lung as Ma Ching Gin (Ah Leng)
Lee Kwok Lun as Lee Ming Kit (Marco)

Character Description and Background

Ben Lok Bun (played by Raymond Lam)

An outgoing, witty, humourous, and intelligent young man whose modes of transportation include the bus and rollerblades. Appears to have loose morals due to his jokester exterior, but actually houses a golden heart with impressive integrity in his personality. Gets along with people very well due to his happy-go-lucky personality, an observant and skilled new lawyer who combines both intelligence and compassion when dealing with his cases. Enjoys taking care of other people, and because of this has been nicknamed "Big Brother Ben". A young man who places great weight on friendship, love, and also family. Comes from a modest home, a filial son who dotes on his younger sister. Originally became a lawyer when his high school friend was framed and sent to prison 7 years ago; Ben has since vowed to help the "little people" fight against the "big corporations" in his cases and values ethics and righteousness above all else.

Chung Ching Ling (played by Myolie Wu)

A straightforward, sweet young lady who deals with her cases with the utmost seriousness and a hardworking attitude. Ling is an only child and grew up under the care of her well-off parents, and because of this she is virtually unable to do any kind of housework such as cooking and cleaning. However, she places great weight on family and also values ethics and morals. Decisive when it comes to love and her feelings, and originally became a lawyer because of a painful experience as a teenager when she witnessed her best friend being brutally raped and murdered. Since then, Ling has vowed to bring each criminal to justice, and is especially sensitive when dealing with cases involving violence against women.

Vincent Cheuk Wai Ming (played by Sammul Chan)

A confident, ambitious, and competitive young man. Sets high goals for himself and also enjoys challenges. Has immense talent as a lawyer; bright, analytical, instinctive, and observant, with good public-speaking skills. However, lacks a strong sense of ethics and is willing to use questionable methods to achieve his goals and win his cases. An only child who became a lawyer after always having been interested in law due to his widowed father, a policeman and sergeant in the local police force. Hardworking and being a good-looking young man, receives the admiration of many girls.

Jessica Cheung Si Ga (played by Bernice Liu)

A sympathetic, naive and simple-minded young woman who idolizes Vincent and lacks self-esteem. Lives with her aunt, who is one of the top lawyers in the field. Out of the four, she has the least talent for being a lawyer; often nervous, less observant, and also less bright when it comes to cases or the courtroom. Excels at chores of the home, and views love with an almost ridiculous kind of fantasy. Appears to be weak and a pushover, but when it comes to protecting the one she loves, Jessica is able to exercise a kind of surprising power. When in a bad mood or angry, uses tae-kwon-do to release negative emotions.

Plot Summary

This series is a courtroom drama which intertwines less melodramatic and more realistic and believable cases with a predictable love square. The first half of the series introduces us to the main characters, four new but dedicated lawyers who each have distinct personalities and attitudes towards the courtroom atmosphere. The first half of the series is also home to the more down-to-earth, believable, but still interesting cases such as custody battles, divorce settlements, and an interesting assault case featuring a severed finger. The last half features some distinct cases that are more dramatic, including a severe careless driving case and murder cases. The cases are weaved in against the general backdrop of the love square between the main characters.

The main characters all end up working for the near-bankrupt, collapsing HK Firm which is owned by Homer, an ex-lawyer who is waiting for his licence to be renewed. Ben ends up here after being laid off from one of the biggest firms in Hong Kong, and Ling ends up at the HK Firm after being fired by her mentor after refusing to defend an accused she knows is guilty of sexual assault. Although initially working at one of the biggest firms in the Hong Kong, Vincent decides to work for Homer because at his previous workplace he felt neglected and unable to show his true talent as a lawyer amongst all the big names. To challenge herself but mainly to pursue Vincent, Jessica also ends up at HK Firm.

The new lawyers slowly learn to grasp the cases on their own and also become good friends. Ben falls in love with Ling, but keeps his feelings secret after Vincent and Ling begin a relationship. Crushed, Jessica also keeps her feelings for Vincent quiet. After a short-lived relationship, Ling breaks up with Vincent after discovering that he illegally disturbs his opponents' witnesses in the hopes of winning his own cases. After being dumped by Ling and believing that Ben stole her away, Vincent heads further down the wrong path, much to the distress and disappointment of his morally upright policeman father. Jessica continues supporting and defending Vincent, until one day Vincent even betrays her confidence when he pumps her for information, unbeknownst to Jessica herself.

Ling has found herself having feelings for Ben, and with a gift in hand (a pair of "rollerblades" which Ben has been looking for for a long time) she meets him at the pier, believing that he is about to confess his love for her. To her shock, Ben has something different to tell her. Seven years ago, Ling was the main witness to a murder case in which her high school best friend was brutally raped and murdered. The accused was Ben's good friend from high school, and Ben has decided to appeal the case for him. Ling becomes furious, until it is revealed in the appeal court that Ling really did accuse the wrong person by accident, causing Ben's good friend Fai to go to jail for a crime he didn't commit.

Ben and Jessica discover who the real murderer was, and bring him to court. Sor Pow ("crazy leopard" in Cantonese), the real murderer, seeks Vincent as his defence lawyer, as Vincent is now known in the field for being a brilliantly ruthless lawyer in the courtroom. Vincent successfully helps Sor Pow off the hook, but not without unscrupulous tactics, which enrages and disappoints Ben, Jessica, and Ling. Sor Pow, however, worries that Vincent will one day reveal the truth, and so has fooled him all along. At a climactic scene in a bar, he reveals to Vincent that he has tricked him into being a scapegoat for bribing a witness. Sor Pow also lies to Vincent, telling him that he has captured Jessica. Realizing his mistakes and terrified for Jessica's well-being, Vincent takes Sor Pow's gun and shoots him straight in the head in an act of desperation.

Vincent asks Ben to defend him in his murder case, while Ben and Jessica tell him that he is their friend and they never give up on friends, Ling however, remains wary about whether Vincent has truly changed, but eventually decides that she will support him too. Using self-defence as the main supporting argument for Vincent's crime of murder, Ben successfully wins the case and Vincent is released. Vincent apologizes to the three, and also confesses his newfound love to an estatic Jessica. Ben and Ling also get together. Happy ending for everyone.

Evaluation of the Cast and Characters

Raymond Lam
Since he appeared in A Step into the Past as the calculative but somehow compassionate fake Emperor, Raymond Lam became my favourite new TVB actor. He was excellent in A Step into the Past and also very good in A Taste of Love as Har Tou. Here, he portrays the character of Ben very well, delivering a strong, controlled performance and impressively handling the courtroom scenes. I'm sure many girls will be touched by the scene where Ben sits on a bench next to an old lady learning how to knit to fix Ling's bag. The scene of a tall, handsome guy slowly and clumsily learning how to knit was absolutely comical - brilliant! He also has very good chemistry with Myolie Wu, and the two make a cute couple. For some reason Raymond Lam has always reminded me of Louis Koo, not only in looks but also in small simple movements, like the way he moves his head when he talks. In any case, a wonderful job by Raymond Lam, perhaps the best of the series. I'm looking forward to watching him in Golden Faith and Eternal Happiness (both of which I haven't seen yet). His portrayal of the witty jokester Ben was great! A natural young talent who we should look out for in the future; as a fairly new actor he has attacked already many different kinds of characters and fared extremely well.

Myolie Wu
A very good performance but I do not like her hair in this series. I've seen Myolie in a couple of TV series, and for some reason the hairstylists still haven't found a hairstyle suitable for her. An exception is her look in Family Man where she plays the youngest sister; her hairstyle matches her perfectly and she looks very cute. However, in An Awakening Story, her medium-length hair makes her face look very piggish. And here, in Survivor's Law, her very short, very buzzed hairstyle is very incompatible with her face shape, yet somehow she still looks feminine. In any case, a solid performance by Myolie in here too. She handled the dramatic scenes very well (for example, when Ling realizes the woman who raised her was not actually her birth mother, and when she becomes furious at Ben for deciding to appeal the case). A real, natural performance, and I believe Myolie joins Raymond Lam in the small group of new TVB actors who have a wonderful future in acting ahead of them.

Sammul Chan
An okay performance but I do not like the actor. It's not that Sammul Chan's acting is bad, he is relatively decent for the most part of this series. There is just something about him I do not like. I think that he is too boyish for my taste. The only series where I've seen Sammul Chan is in Reaching Out (with Gordon Lam, Nicola Cheung, and Michelle Yip) and I wanted to slap him in that series. He isn't so bad here but there is just something I do not like about him. I think that he seems like a shell of an actor - he doesn't really put his own emotions or thoughts into acting, he just...well, plays the character, albeit plays the character decently. It just seems like there's no human person underneath the actor. However, his acting skills themselves are okay, and he really does look like the son of the actor who plays Vincent's father.

Bernice Liu
Oh god I couldn't stand her character for the first half of the series. I wanted to slap her off the screen! How could someone so unbelievably dumb, so unbelievably slow, so unbelievably unpoised get through law school, much less become a lawyer?! I'm not sure if it's because of the character or actress, but Bernice Liu's Jessica appeared to be a 6-year-old stuck in a 23-year-old's body! It was almost like she was mentally challenged! Lawyers and people who get through law school are supposed to have excellent analytical and public speaking skills! The character of Jessica was just so ridiculous as a lawyer because she's literally shaking when she speaks! As for Bernice Liu's performance, underaverage but I did not expect much else from her. Her eyebrows do these weird things when she acts - it's funny but not in a good way. However, one good thing about watching her is that Bernice Liu isn't a stick and actually looks like a normal, healthy girl, unlike many other TVB actresses. She does NOT look good with Sammul Chan, and also lacked chemistry with him. It appears (in this series) that they aren't friends off screen (which is not the case for Myolie Wu and Raymond Lam). In any case, the worst performance.

Other characters:

I don't know if it's just the actors, but the characters of Angela (Jessica's aunt) and Marco (Angela's fiance) seemed very inappropriate or just inferior as lawyers. The ironic thing is that the new lawyers (or the newer actors who portrayed them) fared MUCH better in terms of performances both inside and outside the courtroom, and Angela and Marco were supposed to be veterans in the field! Pairing Lok Ying Kwan (Homer) with Winnie Yeung as husband-and-wife was an odd casting choice, and as much as I like Winnie Yeung as a person in real life, her acting is incredibly underaverage and doesn't seem to be improving. As for Angela, she was quite the comic while chasing Homer until he acted all gross to get rid of her, but the idea of a veteran lawyer having one streak of purposely dyed white hair (think Louis Koo's Yeung Gor in the 1995 remake of Legend of the Condor Heroes) is both ridiculous and unacceptable when she's supposed to be one of the top lawyers in the field. A major part of the courtroom is looking presentable and not "wild"! Juno's cameo (as mentioned) below is virtually useless, but the twist of him having a thing for Jessica was a comical touch, although I don't know what kind of guy would like such a simple-minded and dumb girl.

Best Scenes

1) The first time we see Ben in the courtroom and he uses odd tactics to win his case. An excellent performance by Raymond Lam!
2) When Ben sits down next to the old lady and knits Ling's bag at the bus stop - hands-down, the most comical scene of the series!
3) When Ling realizes that the bag was knitted by Ben and not Ben's mother (as he led her to believe).
4) Most of the courtroom cases with Sammul Chan; as much as I dislike the actor he does a good job playing a believable lawyer; cool and composed. The courtoom scenes with Raymond Lam were also impressive.
5) Ling's argument with her mother when she discovers they are not biologically related; a touching performance by both Myolie Wu and the actress who plays her mother.
6) The scene on the ferris wheel at the amusement park where Ben confesses his love to Ling.
7) The last episode where Ben and Ling finally get together, the throw-around hug was quite cute.


The completely unbelievable concept that Jessica can be a lawyer; like I said, Bernice Liu's portrayal of the character made her seem mentally challenged! She has no brains and no poise. The make-up department for this series was also terrible. Either that, or what is now "in" in HK in terms of makeup really stinks. Both Bernice and Myolie wear this dark red lipstick which is very incompatible with their facial features - especially Myolie who is a very natural-looking actress. And they wear red eyeshadow - RED! Who came up with that silly idea? The two actresses would look much prettier if it weren't for the terrible make-up jobs. In addition, the cameo from Juno Mak was basically useless, and the fact that he could dress like that and act like that while on the job at a law firm is ridiculous and unacceptable. You do not dress in jeans and you do not put your legs up on the table when you're working essentially as a "boy" in a law firm!

Good stuff

Although the make-up jobs were ugly, the wardrobe department was very good. The outfits of the main characters were very nice and incredibly appropriate for a group of new lawyers. Myolie's formal suits, Sammul's business suits, and Raymond's business casual outfits looked excellent. Raymond Lam's ribbed turtlenecks, in particular, make him very good-looking and accentuate his broad shoulders. Also, this courtroom drama makes the world of lawyers much more believable; the cases and the way the lawyers went about working on them was a much more real portrayal of what lawyers go through (compared to the brilliantly acted by incredibly unreal Files of Justice). Files of Justice showed the lawyers (with okay make-up but terrible hairstyles) as people who never had to work and spent their days at an elite bar. Survivor's Law is much more real, considering it explores the careers of brand-new lawyers looking to make a name for themselves, and them having to actually go out on the street and research their cases or to recruit clients.

Some Final Words and Consensus

A very catchy and touching theme song sung by Raymond Lam, who is a pretty decent singer. Why is it that TVB always refers to their main characters by English names whenever the series revolves around a particular profession? For example, in Files of Justice, the lawyer-characters are named Ben, Michael, Sam, Cat, and Steven. In Healing Hands, you've got doctor-characters such as Henry, Paul, Annie, Tracy, and Jackie. Survivor's Law is no different. Are the writers trying to imply that true professions require a completely Westernized style of living? In any case, Survivor's Law is a decent series worth watching, especially since it is carried by effective performances done by solid new actors. The plot is fast-paced, believable and yet unpredictable. Definitely rent if you're a fan of the TVB "profession" series and if you're a fan of Raymond Lam. Stay away if you're looking for a comedy, or if you can't stand bad actresses playing incredibly dumb characters who are supposed to be intelligent and poised (Bernice Liu). Also stay away if you can't stomach the idea of a severed finger floating in pink water in a plastic water bottle.


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