Moonlight Resonance

Reviewed by: koolkat

February 11, 2009

Rating: four

The Plot:
Once upon a time, the Kum family was very happy. One day, they accepted a young woman into their bakery and she turned their world upside down. She broke up the family and became the wicked stepmother. The six children were split up and three went to live with the father and wicked stepmother, while the remaining three followed their mother.

Many years have passed and their children have grown up. Their mother is still running a humble bakery while their father and his new wife have a new bakery which has become a large and prosperous chain. Family matters come to a head as the mother's sister returns from abroad and sows discontent and discord. The families fight over their bakery's brand name, which was originally started by their maternal grandfather. They are also unhappy because the father's second family gets to eat together on the actual day of the Mooncake Festival.

But eventually the father tries to get to know his children better and spends more time with his first family while the wicked stepmother schemes to keep him away from them, sometimes with disastrous and funny results. On one occasion, she steps on his spectacles and he has to stumble through the streets half blind while his son is sent on a wild goose chase to look for him and he falls on the street and hurts himself. The stepmother is forced to come up with more vicious plans as she feels her husband, and even her own daughter, slipping away from her.

Every evil scheme is, however, thwarted by the children's mother as she isn't afraid to speak up for her children, or humble herself to ask for what she wants. Eventually, even her former mother-in-law, acted by the formidable and scary Li Heung Kam, who previously hated her and described her as the "fat blob", is won over by her sincerity and goodness.

In between are a couple of romances, including some rather dubious ones, since they are between the children, and love triangles.

As the evil stepmother schemes to take over the company, the tension is cranked up as the children and the first wife rally around the father. Eventually it's a case of 'all's well that ends well'.

Ha Yu, as the father Kum Tai Cho, played his role really well. He managed to gain sympathy as a father who tries to reconcile with his children even after his betrayal. Some of his scenes are also quite touching.

Louise Lee, as the wronged wife and mother Ho Ma, has carved a niche for herself playing such matriarchal roles. Her looks are eminently suitable for playing the matronly Ho Ma, who is ever-reliable and loving. Sometimes she's a touch unrealistic, simply too good. It was also a bit hard to picture Shirley Yeung as the young Ho Ma morphing into the older version.

Michelle Yim, as Yan Hung, the wicked stepmother, has a juicy role that allows her to display her versality. Even today, she possesses a screen presence that many younger actresses cannot hope to match. She also does a good job at eliciting sympathy from the audience with her subtle performance. Even though she's portrayed as the evil stepmother, she doesn't appear all that bad, as she manages to display some vulnerability, especially when she's trying to fight for her husband. Still, that wig was very hard to get past. It looked so stiff it could stand on its own.

Susanna Kwan as Sa Yee, the aunt, is hilarious. She's terribly annoying, with her greedy and scheming ways. Yet without her, much of the show would disappear, since she seems to be the one that sends the family lurching from crisis to crisis, even more so than the stepmother. She always gets her just desserts as her schemes get shot down by Ho Ma. It's very amusing watching her get her comeuppance.

Raymond Lam is Goon Ga Jai, everybody's favourite son/grandson. Like his mother, he's so good he's unbelievable. He's always ready to jump in as confidant, driver, companion, champion etc. Not a terribly challenging role for Raymond, although it's understandable why the role made him so popular. A dorky haircut and ugly shirts identify him as the humble but likeable bakery helper. In contrast, his love interest, Linda Chung, is a doctor, and his love rival, Bosco Wong, is a gynaecologist. Linda is his stepmother's daughter, no relation to him, although they both grew up together. Much is made of the chemistry between Raymond and Linda but she seems such a whiny, dependent person, it's torturous to watch them together. For a doctor and a supposedly better-educated professional, she seems less emotionally mature than him. Bosco is rather stiff in the role of the two-timing boyfriend. He certainly has acted better in other shows. His scenes with Linda are also boring.

Kate Tsui, as Ka Mei, Sa Yee's daughter, and therefore the children's cousin, is my character to hate, more than Sa Yee, more than Yan Hung. She's so insidious in her backstabbing and plotting, it's scary watching her, because we all know someone like that in our lives. She plays her role well, because she's made herself so hateworthy, giving her mother a run for the money.

Moses Chan, as Ah Ka, the oldest son, is kinda boring. He tries to be funny and eccentric, but falls flat. Tavia Yeung is his adopted sister Ah Yuet, who has a crush on him. She's impulsive, straightforward and reckless as she gets into trouble by making accusations without backing them up. While both try hard, chemistry is lacking in their scenes together.

I won't cover the other characters, since there's nothing really remarkable about them.

There are many things to like about this show. It's witty, it has many touching moments, and it's good at milking the viewer's emotions as the "baddies" get their comeuppance rather frequently. It doesn't leave the payoff to the end of the show. Sa Yee, Ka Mei or Yan Hung get thwarted rather frequently. The cast is also a good mix of veterans and newcomers who look as if they're enjoying themselves.

It is however overly melodramatic, there are one too many over-the-top scenes and some of the song-and-dance routines could have been cut back. Hor Ma and Goon Ga Jai are unrealistically good, the romances are a bit childish and I wish TVB would get better wigs, or do away with them altogether.

The ending is also a bit rushed and Kate Tsui's sudden change of heart and repentance a bit hard to swallow.

But I can't argue with the statistics. This is the highest-rated TVB series, so it must mean lots of people watched and liked it. Watch if it you enjoy being on an emotional roller coaster. It's great fun. Give it a miss if you hate melodramatic shows and lots of blubbering about.

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