Always Ready


Reviewed by: sukting

March 03, 2009

Rating: three-point-five

How long
30 episodes

Foreword
The story centred around Government Flying Service (Hong Kong), which is responsible for search and rescue (SAR), air ambulance, firefighting and assist in police operations. (GFS)is Hong Kong's special force that has the least number of staff but they provide the most service. Their motto is 「隨時候命」(SEMPER PARATUS),to serve the people and the government. The belief hasn't changed all these years so they manage to save countless lives.

This drama covers the lives of the staff – how they cope with their jobs and also interacting with their families. It is also on how the seniors train their juniors. Friendship starts to bond between them too. How will they do when their close friends are in danger? Should they quit their jobs when they are forced to? This drama also signifies Ekin's return 7 years later after leaving TVB. Did he change from the past?

Story/Introduction on characters

1. Ko Hor Fung – Cheng Ekin
Hor Fung is Government Flying Service (GFS) second commander of air crew. He is very cheerful and is warm in treating others. His juniors love his chatty nature and enjoy working under him. He is the best partner of Ching Wan. He has thought that Ching Wan looks scheming and is unfriendly. But his impression of him changes after Ching Wan rescues him in an operation. Both of them are instructors – they shoulder the responsibility to save others and also to train their juniors.

He has a girlfriend, Yau Nam, whom has been in a coma for three years from a car accident. He never leaves her side, hoping that she will recover one day. She does wake up but he is shattered when she can't remember him. He isn't deterred and starts wooing her all over again.

He wins her heart but they soon break up as he hardly changes his habits. His concentration is all on her when she is in a coma but he reverts to his old ways when she recovers. He has the tendency to help others – to the extent of neglecting himself and also his girlfriend. And sometimes, he discovers that his assistance cause harm than good when Ching Wan has to pick up his broken pieces.

During the latest recruitment, he is in charge of training Chor Kei. He keeps let her analyse a lot of problems to improve. This makes Chor Kei think that he is biased towards women and she gets hostile towards him. Hor Fung learns that she is abandoned by her father from young. He teaches her to untie the knot in her heart when she nearly resigns as she is unable to solve the problem. She melts due to his sincerity and falls for him.

Upon knowing that Ching Wan and Yau Nam are in love, he backs out. However, his over eager act hurts Chor Kei and she is more than unhappy when he evades the issue. He only realises that he misses her when she goes to Da Lian. Although he emails to her frequently, she chooses not to reply and this upsets him. Upon discovering that he has a serious slip disc problem, he confides in her.

Due to his busy schedule, he tends to overlook it and his injury worsens. The doctor even suggests him quitting his job at GFS. He gets very troubled as he is asked to take leave and tells her about it. when she is back, he asks her if she has read his mails, she replies that she has forgotten her password so she has not read them. Seeing her not wearing the watch that he has given her, he frowns.

Hor Fung's condition gets so serious that he can't exercise his duties. The yearly check up test is approaching and he has to rest completely. He has no confidence to pass it. If he fails, he has to quit so he is in low spirits. Chor Kei learns about his condition and is very concerned. She arranges a time table for him to train him. She accompanies him to go swimming to cope with it and he is rest assured. He is overjoyed when he passes the test.

Unable to tell her personally that he likes her, he confers his feelings through a game. But she is angry with him for not doing this directly. She has read his emails – why can't he be frank when facing her? Why is he treating her as a disciple and ghost coach? She is only waiting for him to tell her personally. Still, she plays his game to discover the box he hides in her room. He has hidden different keys in different boxes.

The first is the car key that he has shared with Yau Nam. The second is the key to his work locker. The last one is the key to his home. He asks her in his letter if she is willing to be bothered by many people in his home – including her own father. She finally knows his feelings and rushes to GPS to learn that he is in danger. She bursts into tears when hearing him telling the child he is saving that he wants to be with her when he returns.

Hor Fung tries saving people from a burning building. He is trapped with a child at a rooftop to get help. Together with Ching Wan, both men go through all odds to get saved. They rebuild the team's confidence and vigour. They face all dangers bravely, overcoming every obstacle and fly high up in the sky.
Ekin should have cut his hair long ago. He looks so youthful and refreshed, not much difference from acting in 'Crime Fighters'. He is competent in acting as the devoted lover who never forsakes Yau Nam all these years. However, somehow, I find the chemistry lacking between him and his female co-stars although he has a lot of chemistry with the other actors.

2. Hong Yau Nam – Sheh See Man
See Man is an ER doctor. She awakes from her coma, and slowly recovers her memory with Hor Fung's help. However, she realizes before the accident that she is about to break up with Hor Fung because he cares more towards his work than her. Still, she is touched by his concern for her and decides to give him a chance. He even touches her to become a doctor for GFS.

However, she realises that he hasn't changed at all. Both of them can't communicate and he doesn't even know what cake she actually likes. He is also overly concerned towards Chor Kei and she reminds him that Chor Kei likes him. But the stubborn Hor Fung refuses to believe it.

Yau Nam's ties with her younger brother, Yau Wah is very bad. They will quarrel within exchanges of two sentences. Upon knowing that he has not completed his studies, she jumps into conclusions easily that he is often at fault when he doesn't get along with his colleagues.

Yau Nam needs a perfect boyfriend so she finds him unsuitable. After seeing how frantic Ching Wan is when Mun Bak goes missing, she finds him a family man and falls for him. Both proceed even further when she saves him from dying. She also helps to change Mun Yui's mind of getting Mun Bak's custody.

Although See Man cuts her hair short, she hardly projects Yau Nam's determination with her gentle gestures and whining voice. I feel she hasn't explored further into Yau Nam's feelings and her crying scenes are very unnatural.

3. See Chor Kei – Chung Kar Yan
Choi Kei is a newly recruited air crew whom is under the mentor of Hor Fung. She is the only female member of the team but her performance was better than the guys. They have their differences at first as she thinks that he is biased towards women. She eventually develops feeling for him after he breaks up with Yau Nam. She can be so nice to want to pass Yau Nam the mp3 player that he has recorded classical music for her. However, it becomes faulty and she sends it to repair for him.

She starts to build trust with him and other team members. She stops being insensitive to others. She also seeks to improve by going for training to Da Lian after he evades her after knowing that she likes him. She is bitter when he doesn't send her off at the airport but only gets a watch from Quen that Hor Fung requests him to pass to her. She doesn't reply his emails but later returns due to a conference.

Upon knowing his illness, their roles are switched. She becomes his coach to help him recover. She is alone since young and has to make decisions herself. She is tired and wishes someone to arrange her life. Even though the person may be a ghost trainer, she will treat him as an angel. Hor Fung gets the hint and proposes to her through letters. She is touched and wears the watch he gives her. He seals her lips with a kiss. As a newcomer, Kar Yan's acting is very raw at first. She gets better as she goes along.

4. Yip Ching Wan – Lam Bo Yee'
Ching Wan is Hor Fung's friend. He is the first commander pilot of the GFS and he becomes good friends with Hor Fung after saving him when they first started out. Unlike Hor Fung, he is the no-nonsense type who is cool and also systematic in work.

He becomes closer friends with Yau Nam when she becomes a volunteer doctor with GFS and works with him on several occasions. Both are in a medical dispute when they are unable to save a patient. Luckily, they are discovered to be professional and thus this brings them together.

Both soon also develop feelings for each other. But afraid to hurt Hor Fung who still hasn't given up on Yau Nam, they keep their feelings to themselves. It takes them some time to determine their love for each other when Yau Nam is splashed with a patient's blood and he is suspected of suffering from an epidemic disease. When she is put in the quarantine ward, he can't suppress his urge to visit her.

A gas explosion at an illegal gas station causes Ching Wan's helicopter to sink under water. An overnight rescue occurs in the search for Ching Wan after all the other crew men are saved. The overnight search fails to find him. When the Chief Officer says to call it a night, all the remaining crewmen decline, but because of the strong mist, he fears that another aircraft could be lost, so he calls that at 3:30 am the next day that the search continues.
When the crew finds Ching Wan in the morning, he is rushed to hospital, where Yau Nam works. Mun Bak arrives and sees his father unconscious. When Yau Nam uses the defibrillator on him, Mun Bak sees it and his heart becomes unstable and is afraid of airplanes.

Ching Wan retires to rest Mun Bak's mind so the boy is comforted. But when it comes to fighting his custody, his speech on how he takes care of Mun Pak these 6 years doesn't help him. Ching Wan is disappointed but still arranges a farewell party for him. This touches Mun Yui to return Mun Bak back to him.

His old colleagues are called up for a big mission to rescue people from a burning building. He looks up and Mun Bak asks if he wants to be happy. He knows his urge to fly the plane again. He replies that he is not afraid and lets him take on the mission. His airplane nearly crashes but is successful in saving the people from the building.

Needless to say, Bo Yee is the centre of attraction, he is so convincing as the no-nonsense Ching Wan who can't tolerate mistakes and is especially hard on Kar Nok. Yet he is also a doting father to Mun Bak at the same time. The touching speech he says in court to fight for his custody is memorable. But sad to say, he also faces the same situation like Ekin. He has little chemistry with his female co-stars.

5. Cheung Kar Nok – Lai Lok Yee
While Hor Fung is assigned to train Chor Kei, Ching Wan is responsible to teach Kar Nok. Kak Nok is overly protected by his parents and comes from a rich family. His family owns a chain of sports accessories shops. Ching Wan knows that every pilot needs to be mentally prepared but Kar Nok's life is too smooth sailing. He has never tasted failure and he might not be able to get over setbacks in future. So he is extremely harsh with him. Kar Nok thinks of him to be scheming and petty.

Knowing that he faces opposition from his mother, Ching Wan manages to change her mind. So Kar Nok views him in a different light. Kar Nok's father's doctoring of the company accounts causes him to be jailed and become a bankrupt. He can't accept this. He makes a mistake during a mission and intends to resign. Luckily, Siu Kuen shows her determination through her physiotherapy to make him realise how lucky he is. She has never wanted to let others see her in misery but allows him to see it. With help from his comrades, he passes his flying test.

This is the first time I watch his drama. I marvel how he resembled the late singer, Chan Pak Keung. He proves to be a competent actor who acts fairly well as the shy recruit. He is the only person who has chemistry with See Kei to make others feel that they are lovers in this drama.

6. Chow Siu Kuen – Yeung See Kei
She is wheelchair bound since young after a car accident. However, she is still positive towards life and is very chirpy. But not many can tolerate her sharp tongue as she often reveals secrets to others and can be very sarcastic. She has thought that Kar Nok is discrimanted against the disabled so she keeps digging fun at him. She is a handicap to show that anyone can work for the GFS. She emits information to the crew when they are on mission.

She likes Ching Wan for a long time but he only treats her as a younger sister. She is very hostile to Mun Yui when she is back as she protects Mun Bak. She is disappointed but helps Kar Nok to woo Chor Kei. When both fail in relationships and she shows concern to Kar Nok's mother, Kar Nok invites her for a dance, allowing her to cling to him. Both become an item after this. But all will shake their heads to see how she screws up the chances of Ching Wan in getting Mun Bak's custody when she fails to impress the social worker who checks on the c hild.

I find See Kei overdoing some scenes. I hardly admire the way she projects Siu Kuen to be so unbearable and haughty at times. But I admire her efforts in getting adjusted to the wheelchair. It is really a tough job!

7. Chek Chi Kan – See To Sui Kei
He joins GFS not just because he is interested on the job but also because he is eager to seek out his life saviour. He was rescued by a team member when young but could not recall who he is. This inspires him to join GFS but he soon discovers that he turns dizzy when getting down the rope. However, he overcomes this barrier. He is too accommodating towards his ex-girlfriend but later becomes Hor Oi's boyfriend.

8. Yip Mun Bak – Wong Shu Hei
He is Ching Wan's adorable son who is taken care of by Siu Kuen after his mother leaves him. He looks forward to Mun Yui's visits but is sore upon knowing that she is remarried. He is aware that Ching Wan loves his job so he doesn't wish to be a burden to him. He learns to overcome the fear of roller skating so that he can also overcome the fear of seeing helicopters.

He comes to accept the fact that Ching Wan loses the custody but dislikes the idea of staying with her as he is very attached to Ching Wan. But he obeys Ching Wan when he has to do it. He is glad to return to his side later. He even encourages Ching Wan to return to his post. Although he worries for his safety, he allows him to do what he likes. Sometimes, this child can be too cunning to attempt to be too cute to my liking. I still prefer Shing Kar Wing from 'Burning Flame 2'. None so far can act better than her.

9. Ko Yuk Lo – Hui Siu Hung
He is Hor Fung's father who has never thought of remarrying till he meets Sau Ching. He is happily married the second time and cares for his children. Although worried for Hor Fung's safety and nearly wants him to quit his job, he knows that his passion is there so he doesn't mention it. I find how he massages his injured back touching – they really look like father and son.

10. Ko Hor Oi – Yiu Chi Ling
She is Hor Fung's half-sister but she is very close to him. When she comes to GFS for a tour, she pretends not to know him. She is a university student and shakes her head upon seeing how Chi Kan keeps giving in to his ex. By teaching him how to get back at her, she becomes his girlfriend later.

11. Lui Bik San – Lee Choi Ning
Bik San grows up with Chor Kei at the orphanage. She is a spendthrift and thus she sometimes sponges on See Kei. She tends to share her things. However, both are as close as sisters and she helps her to win Hor Fung's heart. They do not have enough money to pay rent so they stay together with Chi Kan and Kar Nok. Kar Nok becomes their landlord as they pay rent to him.

12. Yeung Sau Ching – Chan Kar Yee
She is an ex-air stewardess who gives up her job after getting married. Hor Oi's mother but she treats Hor Fung as her own son. Her cooking is terrible although she seeks hard to improve. Many shy away from the chance to be her guinea pigs whenever she spices up a new dish.

13. See Quen – Lee Shing Cheong
He is Chor Kei's father who left Sandra alone in a park when she was very young to escape from his debtors. He returns to share the cab with Yuk Lo and lives with Hor Fung's family, whose house is right beside Sandra's house. Chor Kei doesn't know this and thinks that all presents that he requests Hor Fung to send to her are from Hor Fung. She has fallen for him.
Until one day, Hor Fung tells her that her father lives beside her. He takes Quen to meet her and leaves, thinking that this is a good idea. But when both are left alone, she refuses to forgive him. Only when he is injured in an explosion and she discovers that he has not stolen a woman's wallet as she thinks, she forgives him and both are on better terms. Have a good laugh when he tries to get Hor Fung to dissuade her from going to Da Lian for courses as both have just improved their ties.

14. Hong Yau Wah – Ou Kar Nien
Just like Hor Fung who has a younger sister, Yau Nam also has a younger brother. But their ties are strained as he only can withstand his interest to do things for 3 minutes. He has been skipping classes and goes to a university overseas. He doesn't return for his mother's funeral as he is too upset and quits his studies. He manages to obtain a diploma and joins GFS as a mechanic.

Due to his quiet personality, he doesn't get along well with his colleagues as the nosey Hor Fung often helps him to get backfired. It takes some time for him to reconcile with Yau Nam who mistakens that he is still the same man. Only Ching Wan knows his character and helps him out. He maintains that he will never smile to visitors but this rule is broken when it comes to children.

15. Dr Cheng – Cheung Chong Chi
He is the doctor who rescues Yau Nam from her coma. She dates him for a while but finds him too boring.You will laugh at this. This guy looks exactly like Paul in dressing – has the producer developed the idea from 'Healing Hands'?

16. Paul – Lien Kok Wing
He is the head of pilots so he makes the final decision what should be done. All will listen to his commands and no one will oppose him. He might be in the office most of the time but he also joins in the missions as he feels unsafe for his subordinates to handle the difficulties on their own. Fluent in Cantonese, he laments that he is seldom given the chance to deliver public talks as Ching Wan is often in charge.

17. Yiu Tak Keung – Oi Wai
He is the chief commander of air crew. He has lots of experience in rescuing people using ropes. Like Hor Fung, he also enjoys teaching the juniors.

18. Kar Nok's parents– Doi Chi Wai/Lui San
Although his father is very supportive of his job, his mother isn't at first. It takes both men some time to change her mind. However, his father's scandal in doctoring the accounts nearly wreck the family when they run into financial difficulties.

19. Cheung Mun Yui – Yuen Choi Wan
She is Ching Wan's ex-wife and Mun Bak's mother. She is very career-minded to leave Mun Bak to pursue her studies when he was two. She leaves the custody to Ching Wan and often breaks her promises to visit Mun Bak as she is too busy. She returns to Hong Kong as a reporter. She shoots a documentary on GFS and receives an international award. Ching Wan and Mun Yui did think of reconciling initially but decide against it when they find each other unsuitable.

Married to a Caucasian later, she has a miscarriage and is unable to conceive again. Mun Bak comes to her mind as he only child and she fights for his custody. Ching Wan finds her selfish and refuses to give in. GFS members are unhappy over her win and are angry with her for causing Ching Wan to give up his job.

Mun Yui resigns to become a full-time mother. Instead of staying overseas, she is willing to stay in Hong Kong so that it is easier for Ching Wan to visit Mun Bak. She picks on Ching Wan's job which includes the danger element to cause him to lose the case in court. She even seeks Yau Nam's help but Yau Nam points out that she is only replacing Mun Bak with the child she has lost.

Mun Yui wins the custody in court. So seeing how close Mun Bak is to Ching Wan, Mun Yui gives up after questioning herself on why she wants to separate them. This delights the father and son. I find Choi Wan matching Bo Yee better than See Mun – they are more compatible.

20. Lam Siu Lun – Wong Tak Bun
He is also the second commander of air crew. He has three daughters so he knows how important Mun Bak is to Ching Wan. He is pissed off with Mun Yui's attitude to want Mun Bak's custody too.

Most favourite character
Hor Fung, although he might makes things worse than before in certain cases, he is a wonderful person you will wish to know as he is so considerate for others.

Most hated character
Siu Kuen – she screws up every meeting that Ching Wan has with Mun Yui when both consider to be together again. She is very annoying to hurl sarcastic remarks then. I agree with Kar Nok – why is she so frank when with Ching Wan but so evasive when with him?

Song
The themesong is by Ekin – which is the same as the drama title. Although his vocal range is limited, the song suits him in projecting the professionalism of the force. The subtheme song is by Bo Yee. Bo Yee has proven that this kind of slow moving song is suitable for him too. It is about the joy of flying in the sky to watch the oceans by being a pilot.

Interesting facts

Bo Yee found Ching Wan a strict instructor, but he did not want him to come across as too unpleasant. But the training the cast underwent for the four days was indeed very strict. He was more comfortable than Ekin because he just needed to sit in the cockpit comfortablely. Ekin had to get wet through during the rescues.

Bo Yee thought about applying for a helicopter licence. So he had his wish granted to handle land, sea and air. (We also know he is also a very experienced driver and a powerful swimmer.) Bo Yee did a research and discovered that the service teams were frequently in action and their service range is rather wide as in the drama. Thus he felt very honoured to be able to work on the series.

Ekin cut his hair short in order to play this character. He takes part in exciting activities like diving so he admitted that he was a risk taker – just like Hor Fung. Hor Fung's job is to instruct the pilot what to do as the final decision will be made by him doing the rescuing. His character has a very optimistic personality. He wished to try out flying but he had a myopic degree of 200 so he had to give up. Ekin was thrilled to be in and out of the restricted area at the airport. So was Bo Yee too. The two guys became close friends as both are car fanatics.

Even though Ekin was away from TVB for 7 years, he completed the training with ease. Still, he said that he wasn't an expert. He was glad to repay this debt to TVB. He had been rejecting them on numerous occasions due to busy work. So after receiving the script, he agreed to it immediately. The script was special to him. He was not worried about danger as it was safer than shooting movies. He actually exceeded the 20 episodes old contract as this drama is 30 episodes long.

During the promotion day, all turned up, wearing smart uniforms. They received support for filming on the condition that they would not interfere with the normal emergency work of the teams. Work must stop during emergencies so the whole filming of the 30 episodes took 4 months. A Flight Service recruitment booth was there so they helped to give away flyers at the career education event.

See Mun also had praises for Ekin as like all his previous female co-stars. With rumours of arguments between See Mun and See Kei while filming for "Angels of Mission", she thought that there should not be too many rumours this time because they did not have many scenes together. Both women posed happily for photographs to disperse the rumour. Hor Nam falls into a coma, so she cuts her hair short.

Both guys are attractive to her in a different way. Bo Yee's small eyes can send flames. Ekin is very handsome and is attentive to helping all others.

Kar Yan was happy to work with Ekin because she regards him as her idol. One bad experience for her was to go into the air in a helicopter that kept going up and down. She felt very dizzy and nauseous. It was so terrible that she had to grab onto the person beside her. She gets air sickness but overcomes it. However, if she has the chance, she would do it again because maybe this would help to overcome her fear of roller coasters. There were rumours of her becoming Ekin's girlfriend but it proved to be another smokescreen.

See Kei's Siu Kuen is very optimistic, but because she is disabled, she has to use a wheelchair. During filming, she practised with the instruction manual. Her arms became strong after pushing the chair was great force. Her mother thought it was bad luck for her to bring the wheelchair home to practice. See Kei's only worry was she would become too fat as she sat on it for too long.

But it proved her mother's thought was wrong. In 2006 TVB anniversary awards, this drama was nominated for 3 awards, including best drama. Although it didn't win, it helped See Kei to win the best supporting actress award while Kar Yan attained the best improved actress award.

Conclusion

Bo Yee is the best spokesman for uniformed personnel. He is not the usual handsome actor you expert but he is charismatic. He makes the role come alive. So is Ekin who shows that he is no longer raw now after acting in movies for several years. The seniors did an excellent job but the same can't be said for the younger artistes. No wonder they are portrayed to be greenhorns as they are definitely 'green' even in the uniform.

'Always Ready' is similar to 'Triumph in the Skies'. The rescue scenes are very realistic. It shows the risk that each member needs to overcome and take if they need to stay in the force. Because this is the main focus, the love relationship between the cast is weakly linked. Nevertheless, I still enjoy watching it. It is a very realistic drama that shows how the team members come to terms with success and failures in their missions. They are also fearless and undeterred by setbacks to get their job done.

Sukting's ratings :

On acting : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)

On story : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)

On songs : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)


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