Chinese Title: "Jui Mei Lai Dik Dai Chut Teen" (translates to the most beautiful seventh day)
# of episodes: 20
Kevin Cheng Ka Wing as Yau Chi Wing
Niki Chow Lai Kei as Ling Ka Yan
Bosco Wong Jung Jak as Don
Natalie Tong Si Wing as Sasa
Sam Chan Yu Sum as Dino
Eddie Lee Yu Yeung as Ken
Elaine Tong Si Wing as Jade
Charmaine Li as Jessie
Stephanie Che Yuen Yuen as Sasa's stepmother
Kiki Sheung as Yan's aunt
This was one of my most anticipated series of 2008 as soon as I saw the trailer. Apart from starring my guilty-pleasure favourite couple, the good-looking but questionably talented Kevin Cheng and Niki Chow and the pretty cinematography in Japan, the description of the plot was more than intriguing. Not because it would offer anything new, but because I wanted to see TVB's interpretation of a tragic, terminal illness-related love story that has dominated mostly the world of Korean entertainment.
Review (Warning: Spoilers)
History has shown that, somewhere out there in the universe, there is a solid fan base for the tragic, terminal illness love story because, well - if there weren't, Korean (and some other Asian) dramas would stop making these stories. So, would TVB, with its tradition of profession/corporate dramas partnered with a seemingly bottomless talent nosedive, fare well in its interpretation of this story archetype? Conventional wisdom suggests no. And in the case of The Seventh Day, conventional wisdom rings true.
The challenge with remaking a done-to-death storyline is that you have got to bring SOMETHING new to the game. Either have some new/refreshing/excellent acting or newcomers (hmm, for the life of me, I can't think of an example here), a new pairing, or an untraditional twist in the plot (Korea's ...ing). TSD has neither of these. The premise is interesting. Two guys with the same birthday (August 7th) encounter two girls and fall in love, though their relationships turn out dramatically differently.
Niki Chow is photogenic, bubbly, and has a likeably tomboyish screen presence, but her acting needs some serious improvement. She tends to act with her eyebrows (as opposed to with her eyes), which distracts me from watching what her eyes reveal about her character's emotions. She also seems to be somewhat the same in every series she acts in. What I mean is, she injects a bit too much of her real-life personality in her performances, making each of them indistinguishable from each other. Crying is also definitely not her best asset as an actress. The voice she cries with is irritating and childish. However, she has great chemistry with Kevin Cheng (though she is a bit too tall for him). Her best moment was when near the end of the series when she seems to have given up on fighting her illness (before her second-last operation and after she has her baby).
Kevin is equally, if not more, charismatic and is still smoking hot (can you believe the man is approaching 40? He could pass for 25!), but his acting skills have only improved slightly since I last saw him (Hard Fate). There's something missing in this performance. He is a decent actor, but this was not an earth-shattering performance. Put it this way, I still remember Wong Hei's performance in Burning Flame I, Raymond Lam's performance in A Step Into the Past, and Julian Cheung's performance in Return of the Cuckoo, but I can assure you that I will forget about Kevin's performance next week. One exceptional scene, however, was when he confronts Yan about her illness. Kevin did a good job in that scene, with real tears and an emotional voice. But you see, one excellent scene can't make up for 18 episodes of so-so acting.
Natalie Wong is still as boring as ever. She can act, but she has no screen presence. I want to fall asleep whenever she's on the screen. And Bosco... what to say about Bosco. I might be shot for saying this, but this guy is not good-looking. He has a 'commoner' look and if I walked by him on the street, I probably wouldn't notice. Even though he showed acting potential back in War of In-Laws, he hasn't quite lived up to his potential yet. The problem with him is that he is an inadequate dramatic actor. His performance here is only saved by the fact that his character is a funny, comic one. Bosco does well in these characters. But put him in a character that requires a degree of dramatic acting (Heart of Greed) and he falls flat. Plus, of the four "siu sang" (Kevin Cheng, Raymond Lam, Ron Ng, and him), he is the least charismatic. It did not help that Don's plotline with Sasa was basically lifted from one of my favourite Hollywood movies, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I felt like I was watching a parody of the story with a yawn-inducing female lead (Natalie Wong) and only a slightly better male lead (Bosco). Most of the 'funny' scenes of the DDMK and Don/Sasa plotlines were just forced. And that kissing scene in the car?! It looked like Bosco was eating Natalie's face! Not impressed.
The rest of the acting is inadequate beyond words. Eddie Leung, Elaine Yiu, Charmaine Li, and Sam Chan gave forgettable performances in one-dimensional characters. I basically fast-forwarded all the DDMK scenes. And what did Sam Chan do to himself?! I could barely recognize him. One exception is Stephanie Che, who is a breath of fresh air and damn funny as Sasa's stepmother. The veteran who plays Yan's father and Kiki Sheung were also dependably good.
The cinematography was actually a bit disappointing. The colours that they used to film the snow scenes in Japan were beautiful and almost dream-like in the trailer, but snow storms were raging in Canada while I was watching this series. So seeing the snow-covered Japan scenes weren't as fun as I thought it would be (they reminded me that I had to shovel the 3-ft snow bank in my driveway). However, wardrobe did a great job in dressing Niki and Kevin.
You will recognize many faces in this series - it seems the casting director ended up recruiting everyone from Under the Canopy of Love. In addition to Kevin Cheng and Niki Chow, Stephanie Che, Elaine Yiu, the actors who play June, Kevin's friends, and a bunch of ke-le-fes have reappeared in this series.
To Watch or Not To Watch, That is the Question
Ultimately bland and uninvolving, this is strictly for Niki, Kevin and Bosco fans. Stay far away if you're anti-terminal illness dramas.
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