Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Coincidentally (撞到正) - 1997

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An interesting plot which revolves around past lives and present.
It is not like your usual reincarnation stuffs where you die and then meet again and then fall in love again.
ATV went out of the way to lead the audience to believe it that way when the drama start with this lady ghost haunting a brothel (played by Alice Chan).

Tong Jin Pang or fondly nicknamed Tong Sap Sam (Frankie Lam Man Lung)is the only son of the Tong family which was very wealthy in the district. They run a health products/traditional medicine hall specializing in bird's nests, ginseng, tonics, etc.
Jin Pang is a playful guy; and he spends little time with the family business and rather wastes his time away at the brothel; wasting the family's finances at the same time.
His mother is constantly worried about her only son; and instructed one of their young maids; Yu Chu (Annie Man) to watch over him.
Yu Chu is also a playful young girl and often lets Jin Pang slip away from her watch; causing her to be reprimanded and constantly punished by his mother.
Due to that, Yu Chu developed a hatred feeling for her young master; and often at loggerheads with him.

Jin Pang was also at the same time betrothed to his close cousin; Lai Khuan (Kristy Yang) whom he almost sold in one of his gambling bouts with a dead man in the brothel; angering Lai Khuan parents who were hesitant to marry their daughter to such a philandering young man and only relented after Mrs Tong begged them and promised them that Lai Khuan will lead a good life under her watch.

There was a vengeful lady ghost haunting the brothel which Jin Pang frequents and she was looking for her lover from the past life. In an incident, she found out that Jin Pang was her past lover and started to haunt him, trying to find out the truth on the day she committed suicide.
Mrs Tong was warned of this by a medium; and that was the reason of her worries for her son's well-being. The medium had predicted that Jin Pang will not be able to live for long and not past his next birthday which coincidentally falls on the 14th day of the 7th month in the Lunar Calendar (the festival of the Hungry Ghosts)

Mrs Tong tried to arrange for his marriage as soon as possible; despite the protests from Jin Pang to help him to counter this obstacle. At the same time, she also ordered Yu Chu to watch over him to ensure that he does not leave the house that night.
However, as fate would have it, Jin Pang slipped out of the house with Yu Chu's help who allowed him to help her sister who was sold to the brothel by their gambling uncle.

The angry ghost found out that Yu Chu was the one who caused the failure in her plan in the past life; as Yu Chu was the wife of her lover at that time when she was the prostitute who was in love with Jin Pang and in a struggle, both Yu Chu and Jin Pang died.

Mrs Tong was deeply saddened by the news and told Lai Khuan that she can return to her home as she was only married by name to Jin Pang and being her aunt, she does not want to see her as a young widow. The loyal and defiant Lai Khuan insisted to stay back despite her parents' persuasion.

In the meantime, Yu Chu and Jin Pang both had to adapt to their after-death life in the netherworld where they were given a guide by the old grandad and depended on each other.
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They were still at loggerheads with each other; but often helped each other as well.
During their times with each other, they both start to fall for one another and became closer.

When Jin Pang learnt that Lai Khuan had not let go of him, he felt guilty and decided to appear in her dreams to advise her. However, this led to Lai Khuan believing that he still cared for her and she pined after him.
She even thought of suicide to reunite with him; despite Jin Pang telling her that he now loved only Yu Chu.

Jin Pang and Yu Chu then tried to set Lai Khuan up with his cousin brother (David Siu Chung Hang) who seemed to treat Lai Khuan well and was taking care of the Tong's business together with the former.
It was later revealed that this cousin brother was actually wicked and schemed to inherit all of Tong's properties.
It was Jin Pang's best friend (Eric Wan) who uncovered his plot and saved the Tongs. He was also secretly in love with Lai Khuan who finally accepted him after all the happenings as she was touched by his love.

At the same time, Jin Pang and Yu Chu were finally given a chance for reincarnation and then it flashed to the present where we see Jin Pang and Lai Khuan playing with their son and Yu Po (Yu Chu's sister) and her husband playing with their daughter.
They both named their children after Jin Pang and Yu Chu; which means that the duo had reincarnated as their children.

However, at the last scene, we see the duo appearing in their ghostly form when the family picture was taken.

I am guessing they did not reincarnate in the end?

It was a unique storyline; one which is totally out of your expectation.
Not much horror; but more of humor and focusing of family ties and relationships.
It was a touching drama which had the usual bad guy who wanted the family's properties; as a form of compensation for his status as a stepson and often sidelined in the family.

I think they should have focused more on the romantic development of Yu Chu and Jin Pang's relationship as it was like a sudden thing when they are together.
It left me at HUH, when did they officially declared or were together?

Favorite characters:
1. Yu Chu - Mainly because I have always liked Annie Man as an actress anyway, and I feel that she had done a great job in playing the fierce and unreasonable girl in most scenes and yet, showing how she wants to be cared and given attention as well.

2. Jin Pang - He was hilarious as the playboy and "Pai Kar Chai" who seemed to be philandering at all times. I loved how he softened down sometimes when he realized that he is in the wrong and I think he did show from his expressions how much he cared for Yu Chu. I think she was the only one whom he fell for; since the prostitutes in the brothel don't really count

Most Annoying character:
This goes to Lai Khuan played by Kristy Yang. I don't know what's with this actress as well; she's always playing the same old stereotypical roles where she's always so sad and pitiful and how she's always the damsel in distress. She is always weak and powerless and she must be given full attention.
She's had on the same facial expression in all the dramas I have seen her in; which is really annoying. I don't think she can really act; although she does have a sweet and demure look.
Secondly, I think her character was nice and naive and sweet but it ended there. She was soooooo annoying, doesn't she understand that Jin Pang had never like her right from the beginning?
I mean, come on woman, have some pride and self-dignity, how many times do you need a man to reject you before you come to your senses?
I know how loyal and devoted she is to her cousin brother whom she had admired and was infatuated with since they were kids, but she does need to differentiate between love and infatuation. Furthermore, Jin Pang never liked her at all in the first place.
Thirdly, why does she constantly want to break Jin Pang and Yu Chu up? She shows she is nice and giving and then she resorted to such nimwit ways to break a loving couple up; for her own benefit.
HELLO woman! They're dead; and even if she dies and joins them, there is still no way she can be involved in that relationship.

Best Villain:
David Siew is always a villain; did you not notice? However, he was pretty convincing as the good guy who was actually evil within.

A few things that I must mention about the drama as well:
1. Costumes - I noticed that they were wearing the same outfits throughout the 30-episodes drama.
The prostitutes, aren't they supposed to be flamboyant and flaunting themselves off since they claimed that prostitutes make such a good living??
Jin Pang and Mrs Tong - isn't he the only son of such a wealthy family? Why only 2-3 outfits in every episode?
I feel that Jin Pang and Yu Chu had more outfits to change into after they died....funny! Maybe because they received more burnt gifts?

2. The props in the brothel. It seemed like the walls and doors are so fragile; and not convincing at all when Yu Poh banged on those walls where she was trapped in. I think a slight push would do the job anyway.

3. Lam Ching Ying had too little of an appearance in this drama; I was expecting more ghost-fighting stuffs from this veteran who often played his role well.

In summary, I think this is definitely an enjoyable drama to watch for the entire family.
It will definitely make you laugh!~

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

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The 6th book adaptation of the highly acclaimed Harry Potter series, creation of JK Rowlings.

The movie starts with Death-eaters appearing everywhere in the world; creating havoc and killing innocent Muggles in their own world.
Harry Potter was surprised to see Professor Dumbledore at the train station and he was told to hold to apparate with the professor himself where they found themselves in a small little village; surrounded by darkness and marshes.

He followed the professor into a rundown cottage where they found Professor Slughorn who had apparently turned himself into a couch in order to hide from the pursuits of the Death-Eaters who had earlier invited him into their recruitment.
Professor Dumbledore's purpose was to convince Slughorn to return to teaching in Hogwarts; where the latter initially declined. However, fearing for his life with the Death-Eaters' continuous pursuits, he finally relented.

Harry disapparated and landed into a marsh while Dumbledore has disappeared, he found that he was near his best friend, Ron Weasley's house in the middle of the nowhere.
Excited, he made his way to the house and Ron's sister, Ginny, who heard the commotion and found Harry's pet owl, Hedwig in the kitchen was convinced that Harry was there.

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The Weasleys were excited to see Harry in their house, and the three friends were reunited again as they prepared to go back to school in Hogwarts, much to the disapproval by their parents. (Hermione happened to be staying with the Weasleys at the time).
Ron's two elder brothers, Fred and George's had opened a shop selling their creations of magical merchandise in Diagon Alley and the trio paid a visit to the shop.

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Upon leaving the shop, Harry and Ron followed Draco Malfoy and his mother who was seen disappearing suspiciously into Borgin & Burke's along the same alley.

Draco's father, Lucius Malfoy had apparently fallen out of favor in the Ministry of Magic and Draco had currently been entrusted to an important mission by the Dark Lord. He had been recruited as a Death-Eater and his mother, Narcissa, entrusts her son to Severus Snape during his mission.
Bellatrix Lestrange, disbelieving Snape's intentions forced him to make a pact with Narcissa unto which she sealed it with the Unbreakable Vow Spell.

On the train journey back to Hogwarts, Harry still continues to be bothered by Draco's behavior and disguised himself to spy onto Draco; which unfortunately was foiled by Draco who put a spell so that Harry will be unseen. Fortunately, Harry was saved by Luna Lovegood, who had on Spectre specs and could see him.

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Back at Hogwarts, Dumbledore introduced Slughorn as the new Potions master while Snape resumes his position as the Defence against Dark Arts master.

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While loitering in the hallway, Harry and Ron were approached by Professor McGonagall who told them to go for Slughorn's NEWT levels' Potions class, and Harry dragged a reluctant Ron along.

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Professor Slughorn was pleased to welcome them into his class and while he was conducting his lessons, he told the duo to take their textbooks from the old cabinet in the classroom and Harry found a book with annotations in it; stating that it was a property of the Half-Blood Prince.
The annotations helped him in preparing his potions and even won himself the vial of luck, Felix Felicis, by preparing the potion correctly, even defeating Hermione, winning the favor of the Professor.

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During the Quidditch qualifying round in assigning their new players, Ron made it as the Keeper; beating Cormac McLaggen who had his eyes on Hermione.

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Ron, upon making it as the Keeper was proud of his achievement and drowned in his moments of glory, made out with Lavender Brown who then became his girlfriend, much to the disappointment of Hermione.

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Ginny Weasley, at the same time, was also in a relationship with Dean Thomas, much to Ron's fury and Harry's disappointment as well.

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While the young adults deal with their own feelings in the complicated romance triangle, they remain best friends and decided to spend Christmas in Ron's home.
They were reunited with Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks (members of the Order of Phoenix) and during their warm celebration, they were attacked by Bellatrix Lestrange and Fenrir Greyback. While no one was harmed, the Burrow was burnt to flames.

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Back in Hogwarts, Harry was suspicious with Draco's sneaky attitude and followed him; ending in a battle in the loo where Draco was injured.

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Snape rushed in and healed him; much to Harry's chagrin.

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At the same time, Harry was forced to give up his Potions book which he was clearly getting obsessed with and he obligingly went with Ginny to the Room of Requirement to discard and hide the book where they kissed.

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Ron also broke up with Lavender during one of his injuries and he was admitted to the school ward and he cried out Hermione's name, leaving Lavender in dismay.

Harry had his secret private meetings with Professor Dumbledore who showed him the memories of Tom Riddle which he collected and Harry had a preview into Tom's childhood memories and how Dumbledore brought him out from the orphanage and into Hogwarts, not realizing that he would one day turn into the age's darkest lords.

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Harry was surprised to find that Slughorn was Tom's teacher and understood finally the reason Dumbledore invited Slughorn back to Hogwarts to teach when Dumbledore entrusted Harry to find out from Slughorn the missing part of Tom's memory which was suspected to be tampered with.

Harry then used his vial of luck and managed to get the answer from Slughorn; Tom was asking the use of Horcruxes.

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Dumbledore was then shocked and explained that Horcruxes are a method or a way to separate one's soul and guard it in an object; granting the person immortality until all the Horcruxes have been found and destroyed. The Horcruxes are found in seven; and can be hidden in seven different objects and stored in the varying locations.
He then explains that is the only way to destroy Voldemort; and told Harry that two of the Horcruxes have been found and destroyed; Tom Riddle's diary and his mother's ring.

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After locating another of the Horcrux, Dumbledore brings Harry along to help him to retrieve and destroy the Horcrux which was hidden in a cave; near a raging sea.
Inside the cave, Dumbledore forced himself; with Harry's help to drink a foul potion which hides the locket in which the Horcrux is hidden.
Dumbledore was weakened by this potion but yet manages to fend themselves off the attacks of the Inferi inside the cave and apparates them back to Hogwarts' Tower.

They heard noises and Dumbledore forced Harry into hiding; telling him to stay there no matter what he saw or heard.
Dumbledore was approached by Draco Malfoy who was sent to kill him and he let in the Death-Eaters; Bellatrix and Fenrir who ordered him to kill Dumbledore immediately.
When Draco cowers and weeps, Snape emerges from his hiding place which he told Harry to remain hidden and kills Dumbledore himself and helped the Death-eaters to escape.

Harry was furious and chased after Snape, screaming that Dumbledore trusted him.
As Snape fends off his spell, he reveals that he is the Half-Blood Prince and that Harry is using his own spell on him.

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Harry returns to the castle and found that all the staffs and students of Hogwarts have found Dumbledore's body.
They lifted their wands to illuminate in final respect to their dead headmaster.

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As Hogwarts mourn Dumbledore's death, Harry took a look at the Horcrux and realized it was a fake. A note was left in it that the person has found the real Horcrux and hopes to destroy it along with the other Horcruxes.
He revealed it to Hermione and Ron and they vowed to find the person with the initials R.A.B and destroy all the Horcruxes instead of returning to Hogwarts for their final year.

It was a long watch; a total of 2.5 hours; close to 3 hours and mind you, this installation is slightly long due to the numerous parts of the story which needs to be told.
In fact, the book itself revealed too much to be summarized in a 3 hour movie and hence, this should be understood before complaining about how long and boring it is.
I remembered seeing people getting restless in the cinema and some leaving early.

All I can say is, unless you have read the book or a Harry Potter fan, it is not recommended to watch it as you may not even know what it is all about.
This installation brings back a lot of old memories and flashbacks from the previous books and it is advisable, even for Harry Potter's readers, to read the books prior to watching this movie to make head or tail out of this.

At the same time, personally, I felt David Yates could have choreographed his movie in a more interesting and faster-paced movie.

Overall, I can't wait for the final installation...I heard that it is already in the making and they are going to break it into 2 parts to tell the story?
That sounds promising:)

Obsessed (2009)

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A movie production produced and starring our popular diva queen, Beyonce Knowles which is all about a good catfight between two women for a man with high prospects in his career.
A simple and overused storyline, in my humble opinion and for you to judge as you read the summary of the story as below.

Derek Charles is the vice president in a private company where he works and is highly regarded by his management and his colleagues. At home, he has a beautiful wife, Sharon and a young boy of a son. Overall, his life paints a perfect picture of a happy family and a happy man; especially when they have recently purchased a new house and are preparing to move in.

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Then comes a temp worker, Lisa, who initially seems really hardworking and efficient at her work and is supposed to fill in the vacancy of his subordinate who was on medical leave. Lisa seems to be a pleasant person whom Derek was impressed with the efficiency of her work performance and her personality.

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Lisa, on the other hand, was attracted to Derek and continues to get closer to him, much to the suspicions of Sharon who was surprised to find Lisa filling in as Derek's assistant during his assistant's absence.

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Derek reassured Sharon that Lisa is only a temp worker and is not there for permanent.

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When Lisa continues to fill in for his workers who surprisingly seems to take medical leaves in turn, Derek becomes suspicious.

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Lisa then throws herself at him during the Christmas party in the office, causing Derek to panic and on the verge to reporting the incident to the management. However, his colleague, Ben, advised him to ignore the case since she is just a temp worker and furthermore, his track record was not that promising since he married his last personal assistant, Sharon.

Derek obliged, only to find that Lisa's approaches are getting malicious and she even sneaked into his hotel room after drugging him and committed suicide.
When Sharon found out, she was furious and believed that Derek had cheated on her and kicked him out of the house; only allowing him to see their son once a week.

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However, the couple soon realizes that they missed each other and they reconciled.

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They realized in panic that their son could possibly be abducted when they return to their home one night after their dinner and the babysitter mentioned that Sharon's friend came over to see their son.
Sharon was angered and called Lisa in a fit of anger, threatening her if she were to try any funny tricks with her family anymore.

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After they found their son, they start to install an alarm system in their house to detect and prevent any intrusion attacks.

During one of their getaway to celebrate their wedding anniversary, Sharon forgots to turn on the alarm as she left the house and when she turned back to the house, she met Lisa who was already in the house and there was a fight between the two women, in which in the end, I guess we all know what's the ending like.

I find this movie a little boring for a thriller; and it seemed like a whole show staged for Beyonce to engage in a catfight with another lady; and to flaunt her strength.
Furthermore, the storyline is overused too often that it becomes too predictable.

Not much of a wow factor indeed; and a movie which one can skip without missing anything.