The Last Breakthrough

Reviewed by: AngryBaby

January 03, 2005

Rating: two-point-five

If you just want the verdict go to the bottom

What it's all about?

There were 2 doctors, Wang Bo Fen (Cheung Ga Fai) and his fiance (Gigi Leung). One was a heart specialist and the other a gynaecologist and obstetrician. Take a wild guess who was who. As usual the guy was the successful and highly accomplished surgeon tinged with just the right amount of arrogance (not too little to make him unprofessional and not too much to put him beyond redemption). His fiance was your nice fluffy girl who believed in the goodness of all and was a doctor in LIFEFORCE (a volunteer organisation of doctors who helped out in poor areas of the world - mainly in Africa). She had always wanted her busy fiance to join her and he wanted to, but he was always too busy to leave Hong Kong (HK). So one starry night after a candlelight dinner, they were walking along the street hand in hand and they: 1. talked about what a wonderful future they would have and their dreams, 2. All the things they wanted to do together and didn't have a chance to yet, 3. Showed how strong their relationship was ... and when all 3 factors are present you know something bad was going to happen (usually to the girl). Without fail, the girlfriend began to play with her ring, dropped it, ring fell onto the road, girl ran onto the road to retrieve it, a speeding car hit her and drove off. Fen ran to her but could not save her...

Eight years later he has become a well known obstetrician and an adamant supporter and participant of LIFE FORCE (LF). He has remained close with his deceased fiance's sister Ching Ching (Leila Tong), who also volunteers in LF. On an LF mission in Africa, they meet Ken (Raymond Lam) who is heart specialist. He becomes influenced by Fen's self-sacrificial attitude as a doctor and falls in love with Ching, who doesn't pay him much attention. Ken's father is the HK hospital's doctor-in-charge Gao Cheng. He also happens to be the long-time boyfriend of Fen's sister. Gao Cheng's wife died in operation many years before. A misunderstanding that Gao Cheng had an affair and indirectly caused the death of his wife created a bitter gap between him and his son, Ken.

Another main character is the nurse, Hang Kew (Sonija Kwok). Her young brother has a rare blood disease which causes her and Wang Bo Fen to meet. Three love storylines develop simultaneously... I'll be brief. Gao Cheng and Fen's sister finally get married, nothing exciting only that the new mother makes peace with Ken and father and son are reconciled.

Fen and Kew's relationship was triggered by their concern for her brother's illness. Kew likes Fen from the start, but Fen has ex-fiance issues at the time. Another doctor, Fen's friend (let's call him "moustache" because I forgot his name) chases in vain after Kew but later leaves when he finds out Fen and Kew like each other. Kew's brother's condition worsens and needs the bone marrow of a man - who *gasp* was the hit and run driver who killed Fen's fiance 8 years ago! Fen's doctorly nature comes over him and he forgives the guy on the condition he donates his marrow to save the brother. Kew's brother makes a full recovery and both he and his mother conveniently get out of the way in full TVB gallantry with a timely migration to Australia or Canada (one of those places). Fen realises he likes Kew for some weird reason and the two get together - literally. Kew suddenly feels insecure about what their relationship is based on and it takes a while before they get together. They marry; Kew is pregnant with a girl. During pregnancy, Kew runs into problems and is forced to choose between the life of the mother or baby. Of course Fen wants to save her and Kew faithfully sticks by her unborn child. In the end they gamble everything and the baby comes out healthily, but Kew falls into a coma. One year later, Kew is still unconscious, Fen and their daughter visit her, the ending is sort of open, but I think she is waking up.

In Ken and Ching's story, Ba Hun chases after Ching in an upfront way but she does not take him seriously at first. Their obstacle appears in the form of a disillusioned rich girl YoYo (what a name) who has some heart problem and demands Ken's undivided attention. She becomes genuine friends with Ching, who gives her frustrated admirer over to her friend. In a frustratingly well-mannered love triangle, nothing is resolved until Ken gets cancer. With a story development straight out of the TVB textbook, he decides not to tell anyone but it gets leaked out (thanks to poor quality doors of hospitals and bedrooms which must all be hollow) and the last ones to find out are once again the family and lover who react with an appropriate mix of anger and concern. Ching flies in a flurry from Africa to HK to find Ken and convinces him to face his fears and continue cancer treatment. Ching declares her love for him, but he rejects her believing it is only out of pity. However he agrees to undergo treatment and surgery. He ... fully recovers! He and Ching start going out, but fear YoYo's reaction and do not tell her. YoYo finds out, but finally gives the pair her blessings.


Cheung Ka Fai carried his role satisfactorily but nothing out of the ordinary, maybe because he himself could not fathom how such an intelligent, unbeatable and selfless doctor could exist - I certainly can't. Let's take for example the case with the pregnant woman in labour who is carrying drugs. Fen delivers the baby, lets her flush the huge bag of drugs down the toilet and lies to the cops so that she can get away. What kind of responsible doctor delivers life in one hand and lets drug dealers go on the other? Of course the script writers put enough emotion to try and justify his reasons and each time he lets guilty people off the hook, there is a socially tolerable ending. He fails to draw a line between what is charitable and what is too far, he allows feelings to take over in too many critical moments. I mean he even lets off the reckless driver who killed his fiance in a drag race and sped off - didn't even call the police. If I were Gigi, I'd be turning in my grave after over 8 years of waiting for justice.

Good, innocent, loving Sonija Kwok just doesn't work. I haven't figured it out whether it's actually her looks or her acting or her past evil characters that is forever embedded in my mind. Her character certainly doesn't help the image. Hang Kew is a total loser in my view in every aspect. As a nurse, she would spontaneously and consistently run off from her duties just because her brother complains of a headache and then feels wronged when she is rebuked for irresponsibility by Fen. As a girlfriend, in the beginning she throws herself at Fen - then after they sleep together she suddenly remembers her integrity and rejects Fen's good intentions on the reason she missed out on the feeling of being "chased". Only a stupid person would gamble her chances of a future with someone she really loves and who loves her as much in return in such a dumb way.

Raymond Lam was suited to Ken in being a budding specialist and with the help of the glasses he gave quite a consistent mature impression. Ching Ching was also adequately cast and acted out, being able to be objective at times (telling Ba Hun off in Africa for saving the little girl by himself) and yet still be considerate to everyone (even to those she didn't know). Ching Ching was sweet and Leila Tong herself is quite likeable. As with Raymond, although her acting is traceable to previous roles, I believe she is among the front line potentials of young TVB actresses.

Won't bother much with other characters as no one stands out. I'd just say that they managed to make YoYo really annoying and ugly with that fringe, they should get someone who can speak Cantonese in the "moustache" guy's role and improve editing scenes where the microphone dances on the top of the screen, it really kills the moment.

Q: Where do you get one of those white shirts that never get dirty even in dusty Africa?
A: Life Force

Q: Since when did Fen suddenly like Kew and what could possibly be the reason?
A: He had no other friends; the nurses in his surgery were either taken or untouchable.

Q: If you were in desperate need for a bone marrow transplant, there are one in a million chances of you finding the perfect donor and you are in a tvb series, where would you start looking?
A: Try the person next to you or perhaps any stranger who stumbles into your path.

1. How did Hang Kew's stomach bloom overnight on news of her pregnancy?
2. Kew's mother and brother (she was oh so close to and couldn't be parted from) almost disappeared after his recovery.
3. I can't stand Sonija's moping look, where her bottom lip pushes out in a pout and then she speaks in this - it's not my fault manner (does it every series)
4. Candy Lo's character as the disabled village girl - for half the time she forgot she had a limp and for the other half of the time didn't know which leg had the limp
5. Poor Bosco's role was practically useless
6. Ken looked remarkably well for a person undergoing radiation treatment, as his hair seemed to grow thicker. Same goes for Kew who after lying motionless in a coma without exercise for a year looks exactly the same and with the same hairdo.
7. TVB really like using their new technology in making graphic car- hit-person scenes, I've probably seen it in at least 3 other series. Maybe they could now focus on improving other special effects ... such as the sunrise between Ken and Ching before he leaves in the last episode.

Final Words - for those who made it this far
The theme of international volunteer doctors is quite fresh, has a positive message and allows the series to be shot somewhere audiences have never been before. However the novelty was over burdened by stereotypes (most pairs were male doctor with female nurse) and with the story structured on cliche used so many times there must be another name for them. It seems that TVB is always trying with new themes and yet not really making a breakthrough (get it, get it? Hahhaha, sorry) as they've used the same plot development over and over again. At least it had a proper ending unlike many other ill-fated series. Overall it is your average series. If you like happy-go-very-lucky series, watch it, and the Africa shots are quite pretty. And I guess Raymond and Ching were kind of cute.

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