The Biter Bitten


Reviewed by: purpleprose

December 08, 2006

Rating: three-point-five

Cast:
Benny Chan as Fung
Shirley Yeung as Joey
Michael Tong as Seng
Linda Chung as Dan Dan
Stephen Au as Kam Lam

Synopsis (Spoiler Warning):

Fung and Seng are two extremely close friends who have just returned to Asia after graduating from college in America. As they help out in a zoo owned by Fung’s grandfather and run by Seng’s uncle, the friends witness the discovery of an ancient relic in the zoo’s development grounds. The logical Fung is excited by the discovery, and the two, with their friend Dan Dan, join forces with a professor from Hong Kong to seek more lost relics rumored to be part of a treasure hoard of the legendary Ten Tigers. The company solves one riddle after another as clues lead closer and closer to the treasure. Their progress is hindered, however, by opposing forces from a zoo assistant, Seng’s uncle, Dan Dan’s adoptive brother, and ultimately Fung’s grandfather. Things come to a climax when the villians take Dan Dan and Fung’s family hostage, forcing Fung to crack the treasure code for them. As with most serials, the heroes escape the collapse of the treasure chamber, but the malfactors are killed by their own greed.

Even as the treasure hunt progresses, romances weave through the story. The sweet-talking Seng falls for the acrobat Dan Dan from the first time he sees her, and he is devastated when she denies any feelings for him. The kind-hearted Fung, on the other hand, becomes a love interest for the professor’s jumpy assistant Joey. When Dan Dan and Fung denounce Seng and Joey respectively in order to be together, the latter two swear vengeance. Their common circumstances finally cause Seng and Joey to fall for each other, and the four friends reconcile near the conclusion of their treasure hunt.

Script:
The title of this series, whether Chinese or English, is absolutely misleading. The story does not focus on Dan Dan’s circus life, and it has entirely nothing to do with a biter getting bitten. That being said, this series is quite fascinating in its own way. Even though the speed of development or the balance between romance and adventure may not be consistent, the treasure hunt theme gives this series a personality of its own. In many ways, this series is a modern wuxia. The primary plot comprises adventure and fighting against scheming antagonists. The script is considerably solid, with strong characterizations that rightly reflect the characters’ backgrounds, but the whole series is a shocking departure from the usual realism of modern Hong Kong dramas.

Cast Analysis:
Benny Chan portrays the amiable Fung very well. Eve though he is playing a character very much younger than himself, he shows a youthful spirit without becoming exaggerated in his actions or words. Since the wit, the charisma, the kindness, and the adventurous spirit make Fung a basically perfect character, Benny is commendable for adding as much depth as possible to his role. He makes audiences love the character, and consequently himself.

Shirley Yeung actually does quite a good job playing the loud and strong-willed Joey. As annoying as the character may be at times, Shirley manages to give her a certain attractiveness. She also has remarkable chemistry with Benny, making it a pity that they do not end up together.

Michael Tong seems rather irritable at the beginning of the series. The way he portrays the womanizer Seng is too extreme and unrealistic. He grows into the role though, and by the end of the series, one could not imagine Seng to be any other way than what Michael presents. Besides, the whole series is unrealistic, who cares about one character?

Linda Chung deserves encouragement for her performance as the gentle and soft-hearted Dan Dan. I cannot deny her good acting, especially in the edited acrobatic scenes, even though I personally dislike her character very much. Dan Dan is too helpless. She is ever the damsel in distress that men love to rescue because of her good looks. Her positive contribution to the story is very limited. Linda achieves the basics in portraying her character, although she does not manage to make Dan Dan particularly lovable.

Stephen Au acts as Kam Lam, the introvert team leader of the acrobats. He actually does a remarkable job as he shapes the character to its full form. Stephen manages to let audiences like him in the beginning as Dan Dan’s caring brother, and yet he still does not fail in making viewers hate him as he turns into an antagonist after Dan Dan rejects his romantic proposals. Here is a good, though not excellent or breakthrough, performance.

Production:
The outdoor scenes of the whole series are solid, since China offers more space than Hong Kong. The indoor sets, however, are too loud and gaudy. Those zebra stripes are seriously irritating. The background music is not especially well done, but it does its job. The animal scenes, though fascinating, take up quite too much time. The relics and treasures are very fake due to budget constraints, but detailed props correspond perfectly and logically with the script. Altogether, the production is strong enough to support the story, even though it does not especially add to the charm.

Reasons to Watch:
1) This series is quite characteristic and will captivate.
2) The main cast does a good job, considering the series is near the idol genre.
3) The acrobatic scenes are very prettily put together.

Reasons not to Watch:
1) The episodes do not balance well between romance and action, sometimes suspending one plotline for an unreasonable amount of time as others develop.
2) The plot picks up very slowly and will repel audiences that do not have enough patience to sit through the initial episodes.
3) Seng and Joey’s romance surfaces too late in the series.
4) The double wedding at the end of the series is rather illogical since the characters do not have much reason to be getting married so fast.
5) The direction, though acceptable, does not make any of the actors reach his or her full potential. The actors are taught to play 3-dimensional characters rather 2-dimensionally.

Conclusion:
This series makes good entertainment. It definitely has its flaws and has little if any classic value. Nonetheless, it captivates audiences, and that’s what serials should do. Don’t intentionally set apart time for it. It will be a worthwhile watch only if you have some spare time in the first place.


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