Legal Entanglement


Reviewed by: Bridget

March 19, 2004

Rating: two-point-five

Chinese Title: "Faat Mong Yee Yun" ... translates to something like The People in the Legal Net (?)
Year: 2002
# of episodes: 22
Theme Song: Hacken Lee "But Jee But Kok Ngoi Seung Lei" (translates to Unconsciously Fell in Love With You)

Cast:
Hacken Lee as Mark Ko Chi Long (Mark)
Kenix Kwok Ho Ying as Sammi Sum Hok Yee (Sum)
Lau Cheuk Kei as Tracy Fong Kit Wah
Michael Tse Tin Wah as Joe Yeung Ming (Joe)
Ng Yi Lei as Martha Chan Siu Ling (Martha)
Supporting Cast
Myolie Wu Hang Yee as Toby To Bei Bei (Toby)
Stephen Au Kam Tong as Fai
Shek Sau as CC Kwan

Plotline

Straight and to the point. Sammi is studying to become a lawyer to regain custody of her young son, whom she lost to her ex-husband who had cheated on her. For 5 years she has had no contact with the two, and spends her days loathing Mark because he was her ex-husband's lawyer. They work together at the LC Law firm where Mark, Joe, and Martha are lawyers and Sammi is an apprentice. Joe begins to have a crush on Sammi, who rejects him, and spends his days sitting at home listening to classical music. Why? Because he has a severe overbite which diminishes his looks. Because of his less-than-dreamy outward appearance, Joe suffers from major low self-esteem and constantly gets insulted by Martha, who's no dish herself.

But then Martha starts to have a thing for Joe when she begins to discover his inner substance and good heart, and the two have a "one night stand". Although he loves Martha, Joe is unwilling to start a relationship because of his lack of self-confidence. Eventually they get together, while Sammi has begun to grow feelings for Mark. Unfortunately, he's dating DoJ lawyer Tracy and Sammi vows not to come between them since she knows of the pain that can come from third parties. But Mark realises the one he loves is Sammi (can this get anymore predictable?) and breaks up with Tracy, who leaves for overseas for a break. She's followed by knight in shining armour Fai, a private investigator who was in charge of protecting her when she was receiving threats. When Tracy finds out that Fai secretly took care of her while she was gone, she is touched and they get together at the end also. Sammi regains custody of her son and she and Mark take care of the son, while Sammi never realises her dream of becoming a lawyer. The end.

Wow. Shortest plot summary ever.

Evaluation of Cast and Characters

Hacken Lee is terrific in here. He's not the best dramatic actor but he has brilliant comic instinct. His character is witty and intelligent, and Hacken Lee underacts charismatically as the super-intelligent but comes off as sometimes less-than-sympathetic Mark. He has the most hilarious lines of the series, and I loved his characterisation. Remember in the beginning when they showed his apartment and he had all these knick-knacks and toys because of Mark's fear of boredom? Hacken Lee is one of the rare singer-turned-actor who actually succeeds. He's an actor with presence and personality. Very good job and the best performance of the series. Of course, let's forget the fact that he and the actress who plays his mother have zero chemistry since their age difference is much too small.

Kenix Kwok has always been one of my favourite actresses but I find her too naturally pretty to make a convincing semi-housewife and scrimping woman who is clumsy and always in a rush. Her glasses and centre-parted hair gave her a silly screen presence, but quite frankly she and Hacken Lee had zero romantic chemistry also. Kenix Kwok also had no chemistry with the boy who played Sammi's son. It wasn't a bad performance per se, it was more of her talent being wasted since she wasn't given much to work with. However, her concluding speech near the end in court during her custody battle was done very well and was very touching.

Ng Yi Lei was such an ice queen in here that I wanted to kick her. Martha isn't that likeable of a character to begin with. "Face" is everything and she's cold and just downright mean. But Ng Yi Lei showed absolutely no vulnerability in the character. A better actress would have given the audience SOMETHING likeable about Martha's character, but unfortunately Ng Yi Lei was all primadonna. Annoying and vicious. Horrific performance.

Michael Tse is a different story. He's one of TVB's more low-profile actors but a very good one at that. Very few people seem to notice his moldeable face and good acting ability. I thought he gave a heartfelt performance as Joe in here, although I also thought the writers overexaggerated his character's overbite and bad looks. The harsh reality is, the legal profession depends greatly on looks. It's like business. How can you trust someone to fight a case for you when his appearance is so unlikeable? Very few people can look beyond appearance and first impressions are always lasting. BUT, Joe is a very compassionate character and Michael Tse did a very nice job showing the character's low self-esteem. His funniest scene was the one when he was alone in his office trying to dance with his coat hanger - totally hilarious and agreeable as the good-hearted Joe who was eager to please Martha.

Lau Cheuk Kei was ok as Tracy, she does look fairly professional and isn't someone who overacts (thank god), but she did come off as cold and unfeeling in half of her scenes. But I do find her pretty in a natural way, and she's quite natural in front of the camera (probably due to her work as a K-100 host). Stephen Au didn't have much to show here, nothing great, nothing terrible, while Myolie Wu is charming enough in her minor role. Shek Sau... dull as CC Kwan, having no chemistry with the actress who played his lover. BUT his scenes that portrayed the frosty relationship between CC and Mark were good.

Plot Analysis

I guess you can tell by my plot summary that there's not much to analyse in here at all. This series is nothing too new and if it weren't for the casting, the plot would be as interesting as burnt toast. It's as if TVB had some extra bucks they didn't know how to spend and just spent it on a half-baked story that resulted in Legal Entanglement. The cases, though, were interesting enough but I'm thinking TVB didn't spend too much time researching on the technical-legal aspects for them. There were two that I liked though: one was the case about surrogate motherhood and the other was one on the transsexual.

I was annoyed at the ending. Why didn't Sammi become a lawyer?! So she spent years working her butt off to become a lawyer just to regain custody of her son, then she gets custody of her son and then suddenly that hard work goes out of the window! And how DID she get custody of her son anyway? I never heard of an apprentice who could fight her own custody battle in court. Besides, they dragged the ending for so very long. The last 5 episodes could have been done in 2. All the "QQ, I'm your mom", "QQ, Mom loves you" blah blah was getting redundant.

The Consensus
Avoid... unless you're a Hacken Lee fan. Kenix Kwok fans might like this, but I warn that this isn't her greatest performance.


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