Sunday, 28 August 2016

Line Walker (TVB 2014)

A few days ago, Michael Miu posted a series of photo on his Weibo account, informing us of his new series, from TVB Hong Kong no less! He’s reprising his role as Cheuk Sir, a detective at the Hong Kong police squad, a role he had done superbly back in the well-received 2014 Line Walker. The new poster of Line Walker 2 is near the end of this article. The rest of the article is something I’ve written back in June when I watched Line Walker 1 cover-to-cover in less than a week (Cantonese version, yo!). Talking about addiction...I never got to post this commentary, but since Line Walker 2 is coming up, there's no better time than the present to post it! Apologies if it is rather incoherent; it was really a running commentary as I watched the series. 

I once said I wanna see Michael playing a modern hacker or "thief" to mirror his Chor Lau Heung. Well, we don't have Barbara now, so it won't be the same (her birthday and death commemoration are coming soon), and Michael never played that modern Chor Lau Heung before he retired in 1987. Besides, technology in 1987 wasn't that advanced yet for him to play a convincing modern CLH.

But now we have excellent IT etc. And Michael had returned to us more than a decade ago. Though he wasn't playing a hacker in Line Walker, the series gave him very sufficient screen time to display his excellence as a hacker (policemen can hack too), a detective (love it when he solved cases!!) and an efficient fighter (he knocked out several bad cops without a sweat, but he did really fight...not those annoying CGIs!). And to see him in suit is always a lovely sight...And his voice was still awesome. Almost unchanged. His voice... (to think that I won’t hear that voice in the Mandarin version of the LOCH 2017!).

Michael Miu, Charmaine Sheh and Raymond Lam

The premise of Line Walker is about the plight of undercover policemen and women in Hong Kong, their lives, their missions. At the helm was Cheuk Hoi, the Chief Inspector of HK Criminal Intelligence Bureau (CIB). He had five UC (undercover police) that he had to track down for the supervisor of these UCs (also his best friend) was tragically killed. During Cheuk Sir’s quest to identify the UCs, I was then introduced to Ting Siu-ka a.k.a. Nail (Charmaine Sheh), Bao Seed (Raymond Lam), Foon Hei Gor (Benz Hui, the Zo Hing Hau in CLH 1984), Katie (Elena Kong) and other characters who mostly stole my heart.

In no particular order, these are the things that I love about Line Walker 1 (SPOILERS ahead!!!):

The story is a typical detective story, but the writers almost made it into a Spooks Series. Call it the Hong Kong Spooks series if you will; it's not that far off anyway. We keep guessing who's who every other episode. There are layers after layers of deception. After Flounder (Bao Seed’s first boss) was killed, we thought the enemy was Foon Hei. But even he yielded to a higher level criminal...and so on, and so forth...

Michael's performance and expressions. God, I love him! He shed silent tears in the first episode, then also when Hong Sir died. Then whenever he grieved, I can feel his pain. I don't understand why he never or rarely won any awards, the juries must be blind. He might be akin to Alan Rickman in the way that he performed well but rarely got awards. But please stay healthy and happy, Michael, we need you...

Cheuk Sir (Michael) and his wife Katie (Elena Kong), Tumblr

Love the relationship between Michael's Cheuk Sir and Elena Kong's Katie Cheung. Who said that older people couldn't have a romantic relationship? Their last scenes reminded me of Chor Lau Heung, in the way he joked around when he was feeling relaxed... 

I also love Cheuk Hoi Sir's interactions with his niece Mei Yin. I never got to learn how Mei Yin lived with Uncle Hoi...but I assume her parents died when she was little and Cheuk Sir took care of Mei Yin ever since.

Michael was so scary when Cheuk Sir "turned to the dark side". Almost like watching Yeung Hong again. One thing that made me believed that Cheuk Sir was being a UC with the last dude was because we were presented with the scene of Nail and Burst Seed being chased by mobs after the latter knew the former were undercover cops (and the worried Cheuk Sir launched orders to protect them and other UCs inside the CIB office). He wouldn't be so worried about his UC if he turned bad. Also, I googled it after Cheuk Sir altered an evidence for the court, cos I couldn't take the suspense anymore, hehehe...

But, when Michael had to kill Yan and Katie, he did remind me of Li Sai Man (the Foundation 1984). Also on a beach in Hong Kong (well, the Foundation was shot in HK although was supposed to take place in the mainland). His pain clearly etched on his face... And it was a replay of what LSM "had" to do to Sik Sik. The major difference is that Cheuk Sir faked the deaths of Yan and Katie, whereas LSM didn't fake the death of Sik Sik (cos he had to present her body to his uncle)... I still wish that the foundation took a different route where LSM faked SS's death (read TLN's fanfiction on that matter).

Love Benz Hui as Brother Chum Foon Hei. It's a pleasure to see this actor again, and to learn that he gained recognition at such a late age. He was Zo Hing Hau in CLH 1984 (and also one of the Seven Freaks in LOCH 1982, and the lecher Kung Suen Chi in ROCH 1983). He didn't share any screen time with Michael, except for one screen where Cheuk Sir talked to Bro Foon Hei from behind the screen inside an interrogation room. Benz’ character allegedly died in Line Walker 1, but from the LW 2 poster, we know he’s still alive and will kick ass too! (read on to see the reason why Benz is there)

Love Charmaine Sheh's and Raymond Lam's performances as Nail and Burst Seed! They're my new OTP on-screen now... 

Foon Hei (Benz Hui) and Nail (Charmaine Sheh)

Also love Nail and Bro Foon Hei's interactions, and I love Kobe and Yan too. Sad that he died... he was a sweetie...

Last but not least, the OSTs were wonderful. I particularly like the opening theme ("Walker" by Justin Lo and Wilfred Lau), which I've used in the Yeung Hong vs Wong Yung (LOCH 1983) MV here.
Things I hate: 

Samantha Ko's Amy (and her boyfriend James). Double crosser! I've always realised she was up to no good. Having the four HK high figures as ultimate criminals is too easy, someone else should keep them together. And I was right.

Things I nit-picked:

Not a lot. Katie changed from being a scared housewife to an efficient prosecutor is the main nitpick I have. How come a former prosecutor yielded to domestic violence? Is that because of her justification? That she loved her former husband so much that she believed his violence was just a phase and he'd change back?

I also wish they'd show Michael cooking instead of just bits and pieces of him showing Katie how to cook. I even thought Michael couldn't cook because of that. Nicky Wu had a scene where he cooked an elaborate breakfast for Zhang Xiao (Liu Shi Shi) in Bu Bu Jing Qing, and we know Nicky is a great cook. But then I found an article showing that Michael cooks as well, but perhaps not at the level of Nicky. Good enough tho; I love actors who cook... I haven’t found the link to that article again, but I will post it here if I do find it.

Things I’m confused about:

Did Cheuk Sir kill Amy and James? I don’t care, really, Amy and James were annoying characters!

Why couldn't I see the scene where a file explaining Foon Hei as a UC was deleted after the mid end-credit scene?

When Burst Seed swapped the real DNA report, the real report said that there was actually a 0% chance that Nail was Foon Hei's daughter. But shouldn't it be higher than 0%? We're talking p value, right? Shouldn't it be, I dunno, 10% chance at the minimum, if we make the p value = 0.8 or 0.9? If Nail was Foon Hei's daughter by the virtue of p=0.001 (that's 99% chance of a parental relationship), shouldn't it follow that anything below 0.05 (or even 0.1) was rejected? Hence it shouldn't be 0% chance but 10-20% chance only?

Poster of Line Walker 2

Anyway, despite those nitpicks, I totally love Line Walker 1. Reviewers loved it, fans loved it too. I’m looking forward to Line Walker 2. Jayne Stars reported that LW 2 will begin shooting in October this year. It is meant to be the prequel of LW 1, which is why Benz Hui's character is brought back. That's good, cos I'd love to see Michael and Benz in the same screen again! Sad that Charmaine and Raymond are not there to reprise their roles, but bring it on! 

By the way, the Shaw Brothers released the movie version of Line walker with Charmaine Sheh and Benz Hui on 11 August (just two weeks ago), but without Michael and others. Sad that Michael isn't there, but perhaps he's just not into movies? Or he was busy shooting LOCH 2017? I might watch the movie too, for it receives good reviews.


Anonymous said...

You can see Michael cook at The drive of life 2007, ha ha

Icha said...

Hey, did he really cook there? Or they just showed his face and his hand stirring something?

I think he can cook, though perhaps not as great as Nicky Wu. Still, would be nice to see him really cooking...