CIB Files

Reviewed by: Pink_Ink

September 14, 2006

Rating: four-point-five

Chinese Title: 刑事情報科
Cantonese Name: Ying See Ching Bo Fo
Number of Episodes: 20

Main Cast:
Bowie Lam Bo Yee – Tony (Chung Shun)
Wong He – Mark (Chung Jing)
Maggie Shiu Mei Kei – Samantha (Hui Sum Yin)
Christine Ng Wing Mei – Emily (Ching Mei Lai)

Supporting Cast:
Wai Ka Hung – Daniel (Kwok Ming Wah)
Kenny Wong Dak Bun – William (Hung Hou Cheung)
Chan Hung Lit – Albert (Chung Gam Yuen)
Catherine Chow Ka Yi – May (Ching Mei Mei)
Rachel Kan Muk Wah - Joey
Joey Chan Jou Yee – Michael Chung
Joe Junior – Mo Sir
Yue Yeung – Jim (Jim Yan Keung)
Queenie Chu Wai Man – Rachel Yu

Summary: (I'll use actor/actress names to avoid confusion - may contain spoilers)

Bowie and Wong He are brothers who are both policemen. At the start of the series, Bowie is already working in the CIB (Criminal Intelligence Bureau). Wong He has just finished his undercover assignment and is transferred over to work in CIB. Bowie is married to Christine, and they have a teenage son, Joey.

Christine works at a magazine company, along with her sister Catherine Chow. Maggie has just changed jobs, along with her assistants Rachel Kan and Ken, and they start to work at the same company as Christine. Both Maggie and Christine pretend to get along at the start, but in actual fact they are constantly trying to undermine each other.

In the first few episodes, you discover that Maggie's mum has alzheimers/dementia, but throughout the series, you also see that there are two other women who she calls 'mum'. Catherine discovers the real reason and spreads it through the company. This increases the warring between Christine and Maggie, and they stop pretending to get along at all.

Bowie and Wong He's father, Chan Hung Lit, returns to Hong Kong and we find that his sons do not have a good relationship with him. He feigns illness, and Wong He takes him in.

There are also many minor storylines evolving around the supporting cast, and there are also many more supporting cast members than what I've listed above – as well as numerous recurring characters (like the OCTB). The co-workers at the CIB headquarters have large roles, as well as the boss of the magazine company and his wife (played by Belle Lau Hiu Tung).

There are various CIB cases throughout the series, not many of them lasting more than an episode. Despite the series being called 'CIB Files', the main focus of the series seems to be the relationships and communication of the characters, as opposed to the police cases.

Acting / Characters

Tony (Chung Shun)
Tony is happily married to Emily, and they live in a nice apartment with their son Michael. He is relatively high ranked in his department, and it seems as if he has it all set out for him in terms of his career and family. He doesn't get along with his father because he blames his father for leaving his mother (and the family) when he was younger. His work at CIB clashes with Emily's work at the magazine, because his police cases are supposed to be very much confidential. For the years that they have been married, Emily knows to step out of the room when Tony is talking about his cases, or else he will leave the room. This system seems to work for them, but it may also have affected their communication – resulting in problems further down the track.

Bowie Lam as Tony
Bowie wasn't bad as Tony, but he wasn't fantastic in any way either. I don't think it was Bowie's fault, because the character is hardly very in-depth for any kind of breakthrough performance. It's similar to many of his previous roles – an amicable professional, who has underlying communication issues with those around him. His rapport with the other actors and actresses was pretty good though, especially considering his character came into contact with so many others.

Mark (Chung Jing)
Mark has worked undercover for a couple of years, and when the series starts, he goes to testify in court – but not before you see him leaving the house…ironing his tie, making sure the taps are off, windows are shut, lights are off, stove is off, etc. He is an extremely cautious individual, but towards the end of the series, you stop noticing it – either because they stopped emphasizing it or because you get used to it (I thought it was the former). He is stubborn and professional, but a tiny bit naïve at the same time. He starts off with a girlfriend, but he only started going out with her because he wanted his undercover to seem truly believable. He starts a relationship with Bonnie, but she actually has several guys who she has stringing along.

Wong He as Mark
I'll start by saying I never liked Wong He. I have seen several of his older series, and I've since tried to avoid his series altogether. The fact that he was in this series almost made me not watch it, but the rest of the cast and the story encouraged me to. I can't say that I really really like him after this, but he has certainly risen in my impression of him. He suited the character fantastically, and he added so many subtle expressions and motions that made his character just that little bit more special and in-depth. He had the advantage of playing a really nice character, but either way, he did a great job. He managed to make you see, but overlook all of Mark's annoying traits by covering it with his good ones.

Samantha (Hui Sum Yin)
Samantha is headstrong and smart. She has had a string of failed relationships, for one reason or another, and made a decision to concentrate on being a strong professional female. She treats her three mothers very well, and has a great heart – but is wary of others to begin with, and quite suspicious as well. When it comes to people who she truly cares about, she is unwavering in her loyalty to them, but sometimes she jumps to conclusions about people without hearing them out.

Maggie Shiu as Samantha
Maggie has often played headstrong characters but they're usually more 'cool' than Samantha. Maggie perhaps overdid some of the fake nice-ness in the early parts of the series, but that was probably the point. Anyway, she was fabulous as it went on. She delivered her lines naturally and really made the character of Samantha into a three-dimensional person. She was suitably cool and direct if she needed to be, but also very deep and thoughtful in other situations. Despite some comments about her new hairstyle, I thought it was very cute and fashionable.

Emily (Ching Mei Lai)
Emily was always a smart, career orientated woman. She put down her career to raise Michael, and only resumed working after Michael was going to school and relatively grown up. She always wanted to be what she thought was the perfect housewife – the ones who would have dinner on the table for her family when they arrived home. However, because of her high position in her job, she never had time to cook – therefore she would buy take-out and put it in dishes, pretending that she had cooked it. She is quite stubborn as well as suspicious and towards the end of the series, it really shows…but at the very end, she redeems herself.

Christine Ng as Emily
I didn't like the character of Emily towards the middle-end, and Christine did a really good job to make me so passionate in my dislike. The superficial niceness at the beginning was perfect, she captured it so well. It's nice to see her playing a smart character too, instead of the ditzy characters that she seems to have been playing a bit of lately.

Supporting Cast

Wai Ka Hung – Daniel (Kwok Ming Wah)
I'll start by saying I saw him in the opening credits, and already disliked him. I remember the actor from "Healing Hands III" and the character was so irritating that it put me off the actor completely. He is equally as annoying in "CIB", but as the series went on, you realize that it just wouldn't be the same without him. He added a bit of a comical element, and as annoying as it was, you had to laugh.

Kenny Wong Dak Bun – William (Hung Hou Cheung)
It was a relatively small role. He didn't really seem necessary at all, and it was such a small character that there wasn't much characterization. You saw that he was trying to get promoted by doing all the wrong things, and his superior disliked him for a pointless reason which you discover in the last episode. Nothing wrong with Kenny, just the character was a little pointless. And he's also called William Hung, which is no doubt a send-up of a certain other William Hung.

Chan Hung Lit – Albert (Chung Gam Yuen)
A role that's different from most others that I've seen him in. More flirtatious, more fun-loving, but I must admit that sometimes I still struggle to understand what he's saying if I don't look at the subtitles. He wasn't bad, and he had good chemistry with the other characters.

Catherine Chow Ka Yi – May (Ching Mei Mei)
Catherine Chow was good. She really made me dislike May. May is Emily's sister, and constantly tries to do little things to mess around with Samantha. She strays from doing horrible pranks on a professional level, to personal attacks. She doesn't really get any better in the end, but she cools down a little and has her redeeming moments.

Rachel Kan Muk Wah – Joey
Joey is Samantha's faithful assistant, and is similar to May in that purpose. She isn't quite as scheming as May is, except for the one time when she framed May for putting a virus on the computer network – but at that stage, I hated May so much that I figured it was her comeuppance. Rachel looks quite pretty in this series, and Joey does a good job in providing Samantha with a confidante of sorts.

Joey Chan Jou Yee – Michael Chung
He really impressed me as a teenage actor. He delivered his lines quite naturally, and had great chemistry with the actors/actresses who he had scenes with. The character of Michael was quite nice; he is overall a good boy. And the young actor really was great.

Joe Junior – Mo Sir –
Not too much to say other than his hair. His comb-over to be exact. It really stood out. Apparently it's a send-up of a real high ranked policeman, which is great, because I'd hate to think that they did that to Joe Junior's hair because they thought it looked good.

Queenie Chu Wai Man – Rachel Yu
For her first series, she wasn't bad. Quite unnatural when saying her lines, but at least she did have a little expression. She definitely has room for improvement, but for a first series, I thought it was acceptable. The character seemed naïve and young, and I don't think it really suited Queenie – she looks a little older and a little classier.


Tony and Mark (Bowie and Wong He)
Physically, they really do look like brothers. And their chemistry was good too – you really did believe that they had known each other for years and years, and were family and familiar. Tony and Mark have similar personalities, whilst being different enough to lead the different lives that they ended up with.

Tony and Emily (Bowie and Christine)
They sometimes look like they're really comfortable with each other, and at times they look like they're being terribly superficial. However, that was the point of the characters – they had a communication problem. I thought Bowie and Christine had much more chemistry in this than they did in "Misleading Track", but it's hard to create any sparks when you're playing a long-married couple.

Mark and Samantha (Wong He and Maggie)
There was SO much chemistry here. Maggie and Wong He aren't two people who I would have picked as a suitable couple, but once you saw them together on screen, it just worked so well. They really created sparks, and they seemed so comfortable with each other the whole time. As friends, they were nice and chatty, when Samantha was angry at him, it was hilarious, and as a couple, they were just so cute. This is the second time that they've co-operated, and I really wouldn't mind at all if they went for a third.

Samantha and Emily (Maggie and Christine)
Emily and Samantha are similar in many ways. The both of them are smart, suspicious, and cautious. They often predict the moves and motives of the other, and are both just as direct and cold, or suitably fake when needed. They worked really well together when they were feuding, and seemed natural enough when they were almost friends. I suppose it seemed very rushed that they were fighting and then suddenly seemed close, but it didn't seem too out of place – women are fickle, and if the both of them have good hearts, usually you can learn to be civil. And if there are common interests, which there are in this case, then a friendship isn't out of the question.

I thought this series was unique. Not so much on the storyline, but the way that it was presented. The first episode was a little confusing because it kept skipping around locations and times, but it reveals things part by part and by the end of the episode, you understand what just happened and you've also found out most of the character's relationships.

There are many inside jokes in this as well – the comb-over of Joe Junior, the fact that Kenny's character is 'William Hung', an imitation PTU scene, two imitation "Infernal Affairs" scenes, the fact that OCTB were terribly intense, and more. It does seem a little lame, but it makes you laugh, even if only for a second or two.

I also like how the previews are always misleading – you watch it and think that you've been completely spoilt because you know what's going to happen, but then when you watch the episode, you find out that it's not like that at all. The series in general is quite misleading, they try to make you think that somebody did something or that something will happen, and then you find that it was all wrong. I think this would have something to do with Chik Kei Yi and his atypical filming styles – although the ending was a little typical. The very ending was nice, but unexciting.

I definitely recommend it, but probably only if you're watching it in Cantonese – it is rather colloquial. I really enjoyed it, and it is a modern series so you feel like you can relate. I wanted to give it 5/5, but I can't say it was perfect, but it was close. And the clothes and accessories worn by the ladies were just gorgeous.

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