Take My Word For It

Reviewed by: Em

May 17, 2004

Rating: four-point-five

Take My Word for It (aka Negotiation Specialists)

Bobby Au-Yeung – Pang Kwok Tung
Kenix Kwok – Kan Kit
Julian Cheung – Yeung Kwong
Annie Man – Yip Ho Yan
Moses Chan – Mok Ka Chung
Winnie Yeung – Poon Man Jing
Ellesmere Choy – Yeung Hau Mo (Jacky)
Wai Ka Hung – Chai Ka Chuen

Story Overview

The Police Negotiations Cadre (PNC) is a voluntary section within the Hong Kong Police which is called out on cases requiring the skills of specialists who are trained in the art of persuasion and negotiation to try and resolve sensitive situations where a more subtle approach is advantageous over force and violence. This series centres on four particular members of this team and their encounters.

Pang Kwok Tung (Tung) and Kan Kit (Kit) are experienced members of the PNC and also have senior positions within the Serious Crime Squad and the SBS teams respectively. Professionally, they are very successful in their work, with Tung claiming never to have failed in negotiations for several years. On a personal level, they are also close friends and often meet up outside of work because Kit is married to Mok Ka Chung, who is Tung’s best friend and also very close to Tung’s wife, Poon Man Jing.

Tung and Kit are nominated by the Head of PNC to lead up the group of assessors and trainers for the coming years intake of officers for negotiator training. Among these new recruits are two young police officers, Yeung Kwong (Kwong) and Yip Ho Yan (Yan). Starting out during training at the bottom of the class, the laid-back and playful Kwong and the clumsy, but dedicated Yan put their hearts into their training and under the watchful eye and careful guidance and encouragement of Kit and Tung. They overcome their obstacles and fears, and finally graduate with flying colours, earning themselves awards in the process as they are proudly welcomed into the team.

Events take a turn in Tung and Kit’s seemingly perfect lives when they meet with a series of personal setbacks. Kit finds that Chung is having an affair with Jing and when both marriages break down as a result, the ever confident and egotistic Tung’s life hits rock bottom when during a mishap on a case, he falls and shatters his leg, leaving him in a wheelchair and unable to take up his recent promotion. When Kit realises that she is pregnant, she and Tung find themselves helping each other and negotiating with each other to make the other realise that there is always a bright side to life and nothing is worth giving it up for.

Meanwhile, Kwong and Yan are thrown straight in at the deep end and learn to handle the extra pressures and challenges which work with the PNC brings them as they are called out on numerous cases, each with its own touching story behind it. On an emotional note, their relationship is rocky, with Kwong unable to put a past love behind him. It is only when his stepbrother Jacky successful courts Yan that he realises where his true love rests.

My Opinions

The recent onset of the investigations and mysteries genre has brought with it a fair share of shoddily thrown together sub-stories and poorly thought out stages of information release, for which you can guess the outcome within the first five minutes. Fortunately, ‘Take My Word for It’ does not fall into this category. Each story embedded into this show has its own set of well structured circumstances and provides the viewer with a set of possible outcomes and decisions which keep you guessing all the way before offering the satisfaction of getting the right answer. The burning questions of each case: “Who will be taking the negotiation this time?” “What will they do next?” “Is he going to jump?” all leave you sitting on the edge of your seat and eager to keep watching to find out what happens.

The underlying storyline is simple and predictable, yet it is slickly presented, with happy endings to those who deserve it and just desserts to those who don’t. Despite the dreary initial impression of ‘yet another set of love stories’, the very amiable characters and the beautifully sequenced joints between cases keep everything moving along smoothly without a hint of tedium.

Crucial to the success of this show was the outstanding choice of cast. Bobby Au-Yeung has become much of an annoyance in recent times, after stereotyping himself as a happy-go-lucky middle-aged egotist, but in this role he took this to the extreme and became a totally self-centred chauvinistic egomaniac who did not care for the feelings of anyone else and manipulated the lives of his family and friends into his own master plan. He played this role to perfection, bringing out genuine hatred from the viewer for the earlier version of Tung before turning this round at the end as he realises the importance of appreciating the strengths of other people and regaining some humanity.

Kenix displayed her versatile talents with her career-minded-woman-turned-loving-mother role, and her calm, collected portrayal of Kit during the crises in her life as well as the exciting negotiation scenes was both convincing and absorbing. Julian Cheung created another icon in the TVB history books after Man Chor in ‘The Return of the Cuckoo’ with another made-to-measure character in Yeung Kwong, but I felt he rather held back on the slight craziness intended for Kwong and dwelled too much on expressing the underlying injustice he was applied from his family, which was meant to be kept at the back of his mind.

Moses Chan gave a gallant attempt at creating a perfect husband for Kit, but I felt the writers may have created a man who was too good to be true in Chung and he lacked the ‘evil’ streak which would have led him astray. Not for a moment would I believe that a man as good and upright as the way Chung was written would cheat on his wife and best friend. The surprise for me was that even Winnie Yeung failed to annoy me with her overacting as she played well the role of the totally unfaithful, loathsome, adventure-seeking and long suffering wife of Tung. A special mention goes to Ellesmere Choy for successfully creating a dashing and lovable, yet totally naïve and gullible police psychologist and banter buddy for Kwong.

My only disappointment with the cast lay with the rather unexpectedly lacklustre performance from Annie Man. Having enjoyed some of her other shows, I was looking forward to this show with some high expectations from her, but her acting seemed tired and hesitant at times and often let down the other actors in her scenes. A prime example of this was where she was overcoming the trauma of Chuen’s death. Here, together with Ellesmere, she had the perfect opportunity to display some depth of emotions ranging from fear and anger to sadness and acceptance followed by the affection and comfort as she fell in love. However, her rather blank expressions during this section showed only some rather unemotional results, which was a shame.

Thirty episodes were not sufficient to bring out the best in this show. As I watched and it progressed towards the end, my feelings were that the writers had built so much potential material into the characters, the backdrops and the backgrounds, only to have most of it rushed through or thrown out. My prediction and hope is that maybe they are holding back for a sequel, which I would greatly welcome.

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