Tuesday, September 6, 2011

thoughts: Moonlight Resonance (TVB) - part 2 review

Moonlight Resonance @ dramawiki


This article contains a lot of spoilers so read at your own risk.


I won't go into details about the story line to this series -- after all, it was a typical plot wherein everyone schemes to take over the riches of a family business. There are good people and there are bad people and then there are complications. And so for a more thorough summary, it would be best to check out any wiki sites out there (like the one I have listed above), because I'm not going to really bother with the summary here. (Unless I decide to create an intro info article for this series.)

The beginning of the series had been quite the build-up and with all the hype and glamor, I had been expecting Moonlight to be on par with it’s predecessor. As I had mentioned in the previous blog back in 2008, I was truly looking forward to the happy endings that were advertised as well as how the series would handle the social taboos that presented themselves in the form of our two main romantic couples.

Raymond Lam was cast as Kam Wing Ho/Ah Ho and Linda Chung was cast as Yu So Chau/Ah Chau and the two were placed together as the new “golden couple” of TVB after their excellent chemistry in Heart of Greed. While they didn’t end up together in the end after Raymond’s extravagant and heart-breaking death scene, the viewers hoped for the day that the two could be paired up again and have a happy ending. This was a prayer answered in the form of the spin-off sequel to Heart of Greed.

Moses Chan was cast as Kam Wing Ka/Ah Ka and Tavia Yeung was cast as Seun Ho Yeut/Ah Yeut as another couple put together; they were never a couple that was looked forward to, but it was a breath of fresh air as compared to pairing Tavia with Bosco Wong again, and again, and again, and again. And with both of their popularities, this couple was rather anticipated as well.

On a side note, the downfall with TVB, I think, is that they only have so many favorite main leads and must reuse and recycle them over and over again. Hong Kong is a small place after all, compared to the likes of Korea or Japan. While this works for the fans who love nothing more than to see their favorite onscreen couple get together (over and over and over again), it gets a little old for others after a while -- pairing a couple up twice or maybe even a third time is fun, but after that, you want to see them in a new role with a new person for whole new possibilities. Maybe after a couple years we can bring this beloved couple back together for more fun, but only after a few years when other possibilities have been experimented with.

What I had mentioned before were the social taboos presented. Ah Ho and Ah Chau were two kids who had grown up together, pretty much best friends in the traditional childhood loves. But a twist of events caused by the “evil and calculating” Yan Hung played by Michelle Yim broke apart a once happy family and later turned Ah Ho and Ah Chau into step-siblings when Yan Hung married Ah Ho’s father Kam Tai Jo played by Ha Yu.

The idea of step-siblings falling in love with each other has been addressed in few other story lines before -- none that I’ve ever really read about. But the idea was interesting and I had my anxiety amped up in order to find out how this issue would be dealt with in the future. After all, the two were obviously in love with each other from the beginning, the two obviously got along with each other very well, and there were family members trying to remind them that they were now “brother and sister” and could not be together romantically.

Oh, the angst! The suspense! The delicious possibilities!

The anxiety was built up about this plot... but then it fizzled as soon as the character of Dr. Ling Chi Shun showed up (played by Bosco Wong) to sweep Ah Chau off of her feet and make her fall in love with him. This particular relationship development, unfortunately, was disappointing from the start. Ling Chi Shun liked Ah Chau, but ever since the beginning, she did not reciprocate those feelings. She got along with him, she admired him, and she could have been his best friend. But the only reason she even got together with the doctor was because she needed to move on and away from Ah Ho because of the taboo. So when this happened, I was expecting that maybe the drama would start -- Ah Chau probably would have some inner turmoil about not being able to be with the person she actually loved and instead was using a good man as a fall back.

But then the relationship ended up making Ah Chau fall recklessly in love with Ling Chi Shun as well -- an unexpected turn of events and a rather senseless action. Unfortunately, as the viewer, I never really understood how that happened. One moment, she was in love with Ah Ho, the next moment she could so easily put her entire emotions into loving Ling Chi Shun. And so when the two had to break up on account of him still being in love with a former girlfriend, she was devastated and went crawling back to Ah Ho for comfort, thus falling in love with him all over again. I just never understood why she was so depressed about her break up with the good doctor because throughout their relationship, they didn’t even seem like they were that much in love.

Sure, they had great chemistry with each other -- but as friends. Ah Chau never convinced me that she had been able to move on and accept Ling Chi Shun as her boyfriend; so when the "devastating break-up" came around, I couldn't accept that she was suffering that much about it at all. I'm almost certain that this couple had been a means to try the pairing out so that viewers would be able to accept the couple in a later series that aired after this one, not mattering how small their roles; and Bosco Wong's appearance in the series was just a way for the producers to be able to recycle their actors from Heart of Greed into the new plot. Don't get me wrong, I like Bosco Wong and I think his acting is top notch; but his role really could have been done by anyone or could have been non-existent and down-sized (unlike the role of Raymond Lam's Alfred in the predecessor).

And then the ending of this relationship? The taboo of Ah Chau and Ah Ho being step-siblings in love was never even addressed. The two just sort of... got together and all was well. Where did that taboo go? I guess maybe after Yan Hung was divorced and kicked out of the family, it was suddenly okay for the two to be in love again because now they were no longer step-siblings?

I’m not sure if that’s even how real life would work out. Or maybe it is and I just need to get with the times.

Setting that one aside, the second romantic couple brought to the forefront had an even harder time. Granted, while we make a point to emphasize that neither of the parties of each couple are blood related, it still serves to point out social taboos when relationships have a title put to them.

Tavia Yeung plays Ah Yeut who was adopted by the Kam family when she was young. She grew up together with all of her adopted siblings and eventually ended up being part of the family even if she wasn’t blood related. Ah Ka, played by Moses Chan, was her elder brother and should have remained as thus. The two love and take care of each other as siblings should and it was pretty nice.

The first few episodes that I watched about the two had not even started out their mutual attraction for one another. It wasn’t until Kate Tsui’s character, Lo Ka Mei appeared that we start getting hints that Ah Yeut has developed feelings for Ah K a-- but before that, she was still treating him just like a brother. And then in the span of one very sad, very emotional scene where Tavia gets to show off how beautifully she can cry and make the viewer feel for her, we suddenly learn that she has been in love with Ah Ka for a long time. But prior to her confession, I don’t think anyone, not even the viewer, suspected that this was even remotely true. The writers needed a turning point for the love story to begin and, to kill two birds with one stone, they wanted Tavia to cry to her heart's content. Because on a much more serious note, Tavia Yeung is one of the few actresses in the entertainment world who can display those heartbreaking crying scenes so beautifully that it makes your heart break just watching her. While this was a good scene for her to display her talent, this was a really senseless scene for the series itself.

And so this was how their relationship was brought into the surface.

To be totally honest, I was disappointed and I was actually kind of put off by it. I wanted to see some better reasoning and some mutual attraction between the two that would have caused something like this to happen. Ah Ka shows throughout that he is very much attracted to Lo Ka Mei and they even start dating. But he never shows any form of romantic interest in Ah Yeut, not even up until the very end right before the two end up together as a couple in the last scene. And Ah Yeut, aside from confessing that she likes Ah Ka, had not shown any sign of romantic interest in him either. Maybe she was attracted to his gentle caring ways... but then again, the brother that she actually grew up in the same house with, Ah Ho, had also taken care of her in a sweet and charming way. Why didn’t she fall for him instead? After all, Tavia and Raymond exhibited better chemistry than Tavia did with Moses.

As the story goes, Ah Ka was never even really around the siblings enough to form any impression on them. Ah Ho was the "big brother" in the family who took care of everyone. If Ah Yeut were to form a crush on one of her non-blood related brothers, it would make more sense that she would do so towards Ah Ho, just because he is the typical charming big brother type and he was more accessible.

On a side note, if Ah Yeut were to form a crush on one of her non-blood related brothers, how come that had never happened before during their young, teenage, hormone raging years? Wouldn't it make more sense for her to feel attracted to one of her non-blood related brothers at a more vulnerable age during a time when they might not have established that sibling relationship yet? After so many years of being brother and sister, suddenly falling in love with each other seems kind of strange, wouldn't it?

But no... disappointment ensued and continued to ensue even outside of these two romances.

Because with the second couple, there were also no social taboos addressed. After all, despite not being blood related, the two were brother and sister for their entire life. HOW does this not merit some sort of objection from family members or even some complications within themselves? Ah Yeut was allowed to continue having a crush on Ah Ka while he subtly ignored it and continued to date his Lo Ka Mei. And the romance was non-existent between this couple anyway while they were left in second priority behind Ah Chau and Ah Ho’s story.

And then when they finally get together in the end, you find yourself wondering... How did this happen so easily? And to top it off, Ah Ka had never bothered to return any of Ah Yeut's supposed feelings, only treating and loving her as a little sister -- this was very obvious.

Setting aside these disappointing resolutions, there are just too many more disappointing resolutions to look at in the series as a whole. The build up was rather good, but ended up becoming bland when the producers seemed to really just want to have a turn of events and a lot of crying scenes in each episode. You got tired of crappy things happening after a while. And then in the end, with the magical flick of the almighty writer’s pen, all problems are suddenly not problems anymore. It was almost as if God or some other higher being suddenly decided to intervene in order to give the viewers a happy ending because the quota of forty episodes was getting closer.

Ah Chau’s final betrayal of her mother was valiant. Except, it wasn’t very realistic. Why, after all this time, did she finally decide to take everything away from her mother and give it back to the rightful owners? And why, if she knew about all the terrible things that her mother had done, did she not seem too stressed about it until those blessed scenes where the director told her to cry to her heart’s content? Why did she still worship that terrible mother who did terrible things? Did this girl not have a backbone or anything? Or did she just relish in the idea of being a damsel, torn between her own biological mother and the rest of the family she loves so much?

It was ridiculous. And it was probably just another way to show the viewers that, yea, Linda Chung is an excellent new talent who can cry wonderfully within a micro-second of action.

And finally, why did everyone in the series not make any sense at all?

Terrible things happened and Yan Hung was allowed to walk all over everyone even though it was blindingly obvious that she was being a malicious evil.

In truth, the writers pretty much just piled blatantly obvious injustices on top of more injustices just so the viewers could get a little teary-eyed and end up hating the ultimate antagonist with a great passion by the very end. But then in the very end, they allow her to become a better person to redeem herself? She goes to jail and realizes her mistakes and suddenly all is forgiven and she can be allowed to be friends with everyone again?

I’m just not sure whether I had been irritated with the last half of the series or just exhausted and didn’t even really care anymore.

I’ve never seen all of Heart of Greed -- it was a tear-jerker from the beginning and I had to quit after the first ten episodes before I became a crying mess, but what I saw of it was rather wonderful; and with all of the hype of it having a rather bitter sweet ending, I was reluctant to continue watching it. But I’m almost thinking that maybe I would have been more satisfied with the resolutions in Heart of Greed than I was with Moonlight Resonance. Moonlight Resonance’s only goal, it seemed, was to throw everyone's favorite cast into a new series with a new plot and try to make everyone cry -- whether due to the depressing scenes or just from irritation.

After all, Moonlight Resonance was part of TVB's new-fangled version of a sequel: take a very popular, well-received series and recreate the plot device with the same cast in different roles but with a similar story type basis. And to be totally honest, with the exception of one recreated sequel, the rest of them hadn't quite been working.

I don’t really care to recommend this series to anyone. I certainly was disappointed in it.

The only saving grace was the build up of the first half of the series and the acting from the cast members. The series boasted a lot of nostalgic flash backs that were fun to follow and some very heart-warming scenes among the family. The cast had great chemistry with each other and brought their characters to life excellently. Raymond Lam is one of my favorite actors... of course, he slept through his character since this nice guy, filial son and sometimes witty young man was definitely NOT a challenge for him to portray. In fact, I think that all the characters were carbon copy created for each cast member except for Michelle Yim who did an excellent job as the villain. In contrast, Lee Si Kei’s all-knowing and all-forgiving, better than thou motherly type of character was a little overdone and really didn’t shine like everyone kept giving her credit for. So she was taken from a rich lady and turned into a poor mother from one series to another... big deal, her personality was the same. And it annoyed me. Because, for one thing, as much as I don’t like Kate Tsui, what her character said about Lee Si Kei’s character was correct -- she always seemed like she had to be in the right and everyone else didn’t know any better. Lo Ka Mei chose a wrong time to convey that thought as it was used incorrectly, but to be totally honest, I think she was right.

Overall, I enjoyed bits and parts of this series. After all, it had some of my favorite actors in it and they were top notch actors as well. But story line wise, I think I would rather not bother with it.


Related articles:
Extraordinary Moonlight @ Abstract Abyss -- the first impression post at a different blog


1 comment:

  1. I'm a huge fan of this film and have been watching it over and over.
    It brings me lots of feeling.
    I really fall in love with the white watch worn by Linda Chung but cannot find it anywhere. How sad...
    These are some feeling of mine about the film. Sorry for my poor English skill