The Gentle Crackdown II


Reviewed by: koolkat

July 05, 2009

Rating: four

The Plot

Tse Wong Seung (Steven Ma) is a rich man's son who dreams of being an honourable official. His father, Ha Yu, buys him a small post as an agricultural officer and hires an adviser, Tai Tsung Man (Wayne Lai), to help him. Both of them share the ideal of eliminating injustice and they try to help the villagers against corrupt officials. Tse's father also hires a bunch of loser guards to help the son. They are named after food, Chuk, Fun, Meen, Fan, and led by a cowardly fellow known as Chop Sui. Chan Sai Mui (Yumiko Cheng) is a young villager who dreams of being a guard and she has the best fighting skills in the village. She tries all ways and means to get Tse to hire her as a guard for the courthouse but both Tse and Tai find her a nuisance until she proves that her fighting skills are invaluable and she gets hired.

Their opponent is Tai's former boss, a power-hungry official, So Chun Tung (Savio Tsang), whose favourite method of solving crimes is beating a confession out of whoever's convenient. So is appointed as a magistrate in the village and is needlessly cruel, so Tai and Tse work to remove him, but he comes back with his brother So Chun Nam (Evergreen Mak) who's not only cruel but also extremely clever and devious. He helps the brother to think of various means to frame Tai and Tse. Tai leaves the village to look for his brother, Tai Tsung Mo (Wayne Lai in a dual role), who holds a higher post, to help them. His brother, however, is one of the most corrupt officials in the land so persuading him takes a while. Tai Tsung Mo goes to the village to help Tse fight the evil brothers but there's doubt over his identity as the Tai brothers look exactly alike. They begin a battle of wits with the two evil brothers who try to get Tse and Tai into trouble and even drag the emperor into the picture.

Comment

This series is highly entertaining with a couple of hilarious, slapstick events in the beginning. Yumiko Cheng stands out as the bumbling and cute Chan Sai Mui as she falls for Tse Wong Seung, who doesn't reciprocate her feelings in the beginning but later learns to love her and has to woo her back. It has some interesting judicial cases for Steven Ma and Wayne Lai to solve, with ancient forensic methods thrown in, and as the plotting and counterplotting between the two camps intensify, it becomes quite fun and exciting.

I'm not a big fan of Steven Ma or Wayne Lai. Steven Ma is rather wooden and his acting lacks versatility. The role of upright official suits his style of acting but his performance usually doesn't vary. His attempt at the great romantic speech was laughable and he looked like he was swallowing nails. Wayne also usually has a rather constipated look which also suits the role rather than any great acting needed on his part. However, together both of them do have some chemistry. This is more of a buddy series than a great romantic one ie Wayne and Steven had more chemistry together than Steven Ma and Yumiko Cheng.

The two evil brothers are experienced actors. Evergreen Mak was perfectly odious as the fat and slimy brother. Savio Tsang is TVB's go-to guy for cowardly, evil characters. His performance was adequate and again the two of them together were better than the individual actor.

The most annoying part of this otherwise fun show was the romance between Johnson Lee and Elaine Yiu. Johnson is one of the four guards, who's always mooning after Elaine Yiu, who works in a brothel. It was pointless and boring and torturous to watch. I like Elaine although she seldom gets major roles but I just don't get the appeal of Johnson.

Comparison with Part 1

My review wouldn't be complete without a brief comparison with part
1. They are similar in that both have the theme of fighting corruption among officials. Wayne Lai also appears in the first part together with the four guards/comic relief, this time called Mou, Si, Sang, Fei. Part one also has an upright official, this time acted by Moses Chan, and a strong, female guard with good kungfu, Nikki Chow.

The best part about one is the incomparable Michelle Yim. She acts as Nikko Chow's mother who has a secret past as a well-known thief, the Eagle. She lights up the show with her performance.

Otherwise, I much prefer part 2, which is funnier and has a more fun and exciting storyline. Part one tends to drift a bit from Michelle Yim's hidden past to the romance between Moses and Nikki and to Wayne Lai and Halina Tham. Moses tries hard, but he's not a naturally funny guy, unlike say someone like Dayo Wong, and his laugh is annoying. Nikki Chow also tries hard, but she's not as appealing as the bumbling Yumiko Cheng, and comes across as bland. Both Nikki and Moses don't have much chemistry either. Moses and Michelle Yim have better chemistry as they seem to have a bond, because Michelle saved him as a child. The revealing of the bad guy is also left too much to the end so the show tends to have erratic pacing. Wayne and Steven also have better chemistry together than Wayne and Moses, although Wayne has a smaller role in part one.

Watch both if you like continuity. Watch one if you're a fan of Michelle Yim, you won't be disappointed. Watch two if you just want something funny and entertaining and engrossing.



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