A Journey Called Life


Reviewed by: dianat

June 21, 2008

Rating: four


Cast:
Kent Cheng as Kam Shek
Steven Ma as Shing Yat On
Linda Chung as Sze Ka Ka
FaLa Chen as Vicky Shing Mei Sum
Raymond Cho as Kam Wing Loi
Mary Hon as Mrs. Shing (Yat On's mother)
Helen Ma Hoi Lun as Yeung Tai Fun (Ka Ka's step mother)
Elaine Yiu as Hana

Story
The story revolves around three families in a neighbourhood and how they deal with life's upheavals. Societal norms and the right and wrong ways of being are features in the uncomplicated plot. We see the whole gamut of life issues such as family bonds and quarrels, pre-marital sex, pregnancy before marriage, love-hate relationships, the angst of youths and young adults, attempted rapes, office politics, colleagues rivalry, lies and deception.

Sze Ka Ka grew up hating her stepmother, Tai Fun, because she thought it was because of the wicked lady that her own biological mother died. Fun is depicted as an evil woman, heartless and a pain in the neck. The rest of Ka Ka's family - a useless and frightened father (Uncle Sze Lap Chi), her step-sister and three step-brothers make up this dysfunctional family. Ka Ka, growing up without parental guidance, mixes with gangster characters and even cheats if she has to. She has a business selling mobile phones and it is here that she first met Shing Yat On.

Ka Ka has a best friend, Hana, who just wants to have fun. This sort of derogatory living only led to her downfall eventually. Ka Ka is no angel and in her wild days she even went through several abortions.

Shing Yat On is a filial and loving son and brother. He dotes especially on his sister, Vicky Shing Mei Sum. Vicky on the other hand is a scheming, calculative lady who is on the lookout for a rich husband and a good life. Money, branded goods and dressing well are her gods and goals.

On has a younger sister. Naive and innocent, she becomes pregnant while still in school. The nerdy and ambition-less guy she hooks up with is one of Ka Ka's step-brothers.

Kam Shek is the owner of a business that constructs memorial stones for the dead. On works for Shek. With two older workers as colleagues, a dog, a bird and goldfishes, Kam Shek's stone factory business is pretty well-known in the neighbourhood.

The older workers make up the fun and laughter in the stone factory. Shek is hilarious, kind, fair, helpful, roly-poly and well-known in his neighbourhood. He makes wonderful philosophical remarks about life and his use of short English phrases, for example, "good boy", "bad boy", "very good", "very bad", "so bad" are so just natural. These English phrases add flavour to make the movie endearing. Shek has an equally roly-poly wife and they are a loving pair, until the entry of a younger woman nicknamed Escargot.

The Kams have a son, Wing Loi, who is not interested in taking over the stone factory business. Instead Loi gambles on stocks and shares. Though Shek is philosophical, down-to-earth and believes that one should work honestly for a living, his son does not share his sentiment.

As drama unfolds in these families, the sub-plot of running marathons becomes the metaphor for running the length of life's journey. The irony is that Shek, a "fat boy" who clearly needs to exercise to trim down, is coach and supporter of On in his training for the marathon.

This series is light-hearted and fun but not without its tear-jerking moments. Morals and values are realistically spouted: it is about how people are not appreciating and counting their blessings but looking beyond what they can grasp. There is also the idea that what is lost cannot be found again. So live life honestly and for all it is worth. Every bad lining has its corresponding good side. One only needs time and space to reflect.

Theme Song
The theme song is a duet by Steven Ma and Linda Chung. I like especially the segment that is sung by Chung at the close of episodes.

Actors
I think the chemistry is OK between Steven Ma and Linda Chung, though the few romantic scenes between them are not exceptionally heart-stopping. Ma and Chung are not exceptionally great looking so I do not get the "hots" watching them. Despite not having good looks, Chung is one actress who works hard for her money. As a rough, vulgar-mouthed cheat to a transformed down-to-earth lady, her acting cannot be faulted. She can cry buckets too!

Elaine Yiu as Hana is efficient in her role. She has that devil-may-care attitude and this suits the role of one young lady who just wants to have fun.

The best actor in this series must definitely be Kent Cheng as Kam Shek. He hilarity is spot-on and his spouting of English phrases is so endearing and the manner they were spoken is so cool. It brings a smile to my face each time he says, "very good" and "very bad". Cheng and Ma also look like they enjoy each other's company and this makes watching the series easier on the eyes. After all, this is not a romance story per se but one main theme is about friendship and respect between two grown men. Horrors if Cheng and Ma do not click.

Fala Chen's acting is nothing to shout about. Personally I have never thought much of Chen's acting but I must say the short hairstyle she spots in this series suits her and makes her look pretty. She is also lucky to have been vested with great-looking clothes and accessories since her character is one who has a taste for money and high fashion.

Helen Ma as the evil stepmother also acted very well in her role. Her piercing eyes and acid tongue are enough to make me shrink to a heap on the floor. However, her change from bad to good wife and mother seems to have happened too fast.

I can't comment much about Raymond Cho's acting. He's almost like dead. There is no fire in him at all. His hairstyle is also not quite right.

Is the series worth watching? Yes. Watch out for the veteran Kent Cheng. In looks he cannot be compared to the dashing lead actors that grace TVB productions but Kent is a superb and fine actor in his own right. He will bring the smiles out of you.


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