Thursday, March 18, 2010

TVB: Witness to a Prosecution 2 (2002) 洗冤錄

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Bobby Au Yeung Chun Wah - Song Chi
Charmaine Sheh - Yuen Yuk Chu/ Chu Yuk Yuen
Stephen Au - Chow Zi Long/ Ah Chung
Joyce Tang - Yeung Tan Fung/ San Fung
Angelina Lo - Heung Koo (San Fung's mother)
Halina Tam - Yuen Yuk Pou
Jay Lau - Princess Chi Ha
Liu Kai Chi - Chan Ming/ Royal Doctor
Ellesmere Choy - Chin Kit
Law Lok Lam - Chin Pou Tau/Chief Cop/Kit's father
Raymond Cho - General's Son
Irene Wong - Pak Yu Mong
Peter Lai - Yuen Seng Cheung / Yuk Chu and Yuk Pou's father
Mary Hon - Yuk Pou's mother
Felix Lok - Ko Tai yan
Lee Kwok Bun - Ha Hau Kwok Tung/ Princess Chi Ha's husband

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Reprising his role as Song Chi, Bobby Au Yeung Chun Wah continues to play the famous chief coroner, who had introduced new discoveries and made way for forensic science in the ancient times.
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This was supposedly the sequel; but with the exception of Song Chi, the whole cast had changed in this second installation where Song Chi was traveling with his two wives, Lip Fung and Tong Si (played by Marianne Chan and Jessica Hsuan respectively) when they were killed in a freak fire at the motel they were staying, started by an obsessed husband whose wife had been wrongly accused in Song Chi’s first case at the start of the series.

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Feeling responsible for his wives’ death and losing motivation in his job where he starts to have doubts of, he decided to take off from the place of sadness and to find a new life.
His ship was wrecked in a storm and he landed in Chong San town, where he was pronounced dead on arrival and was sent to the local mortuary.
Chow Zhi Lung, or better known as Ah Chung (Stephen Au) by the villagers due to his laziness and character, was the caretaker of the mortuary and in a moment of greed, he stole the jade from Song Chi’s belt.

While we were introduced to the other characters/local townspeople in the place, Song Chi inadvertently woke up and even helped to deliver a baby from a dead pregnant woman, much to the surprise and awe of Ah Chung and Chu Yuk Yuen (Charmaine Sheh) and they quickly became friends with him. Yuen Yuk Chu or better known as Chu Yuk Yuen or Porkballs (direct translation) did not get on a good start with Song Chi due to a few misunderstandings and he ended up working for Chu to pay off his so-called debts.
In the process, Chu fell for his wit and intelligence in solving most of the cases in the town while Chi maintained his distance as he believed that he could bring ill fate to anyone he ends up with.
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Song Chi’s identity remained hidden until the case of local porridge seller, who was accused of murdering a general. Song Chi had severe headaches and it had gotten serious at that time, and local doctors can only recommend a unique acupuncture by the name of Cherry Blossom to heal him and there is only one who knows it, who was the husband of Princess Chi Ha (Jay Lau), played by Lee Kwok Bun. Ha Hau Kwok Tung, the Princess’s husband, on the contrary, concluded that Song Chi only had ten days left to live and prescribed him some ginseng tablets to help him through the period.
At the same time, Chu discovered by accident, that the local porridge seller, Uncle Ming (Liu Kai Chi) was not who he seemed to be as he seemed to know the art of acupuncture required to save Song Chi and begged him to help Song Chi. Uncle Ming refused at first but finally obliged and it was this incident which revealed his identity as the once royal doctor, and also the senior of Ha Hau Kwok Tung, who called to arrest him for the crime he committed 5 years ago, for murdering a prominent general in their region.
Uncle Ming professed his innocence and Song Chi, in gratitude to repay Uncle Ming’s kindness, decided to step forward and reveal his identity to recall the investigation of the case.
Song Chi managed to prove Uncle Ming’s innocence and convicted the Princess’s husband of murder, with the help of the 10th Prince, who was his best friend.

Following this case, Song Chi resumed his role as a coroner and was based in Chong San, where he continued to solve more cases and assist the local magistrate.
He then accepted Ah Chung as his student and taught him the skills required in the forensic arena to groom him to be a capable coroner.

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At the same time, Song Chi had to deal with his own relationship complications with Chu, who was upset with his constant denial of his feelings for her and started a relationship with Ah Chung, only to realize that Ah Chung was in love with her best friend, Yeung Tan Fung/San Fung (Joyce Tang).
Song Chi and Chu had to go through more tribulations and face the possibility to be beheaded in the revenge act staged by Princess Chi Ha, with the help of Ah Chung who had turned to betray Song Chi.
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However, unknown to all of them; Ah Chung was actually trying to help them.
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Chu’s injury led Song Chi to believe that he was indeed the one causing misfortune to his loved ones and decided to depart from the town.
When Chu recovered, she went on a search for Chi and did they end up together?

I used to think that there was probably another installation coming up, with a cliffhanger ending like this in Part 2, however, I guess not since it has been so long since this series.
Overall, WTAP 2 did not lose the momentum of homicide cases and how Song Chi continues to charm us with his wits in solving the cases.
The new cast, to my surprise, was not that bad either, and it was rather refreshing to see all the different faces who fitted so comfortably into their roles although I was rather disappointed with the missing face of Michael Tse as Sit Dan, his court advisor.

This sequel focused a lot on the relationships of the characters and I do admit, some of the cases were rather boring and predictable. At the same time, it was not that bad to that extent that you can dump this series into the rubbish bin to be totally missed as I found it quite entertaining too.

New cast include:
Stephen Au Kam Tong as Chow Zhi Long/Ah Chung
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This is your local lazy boy in town, who had neither ambitions nor aim to succeed in life and just live his life on a day-to-day basis. He changed when he fell in love with Yuk Po and decided to learn the coroner’s skills from Song Chi. He eventually fell for Yuk Chu for a brief period and San Fung. (What is wrong with this guy, he seemed to switch from one girl to another very quickly!) He rose to fame and then he became sort of a bad guy with the skills he had mastered and even used it against his own mentor, Song Chi, in aid of Princess Chi Ha to destroy Song Chi’s reputation and life. He was badly misunderstood along the way. Stephen’s performance was definitely good here, and I never thought that I’d actually like watching him as most of his performances were rather dull since his days in ATV. Here he played his role in such a comical way that you do feel entertained when it is his screen turn.

Charmaine Sheh as Yuen Yuk Chu/Chu Yuk Yuen
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As usual, Charmaine has that annoying squeaky voice and how she always tries to drag her voice to that certain pitch I dislike. She plays a unfortunate girl who was branded as the bad luck charm by her towspeople due to her failed marriages to two different men; one of whom was Chung’s elder brother. Furthermore, her job as a make-up artist for the corpses gained her only despise and frowns in town. She was a very outspoken person for that same reason, to protect herself and her mother from the mean townsfolk. She never learnt to trust anyone, except Chung and also San Fung and then, she finally fell for Song Chi. However, she was hurt when Song Chi did not reciprocate her love and turned to be with Chung instead. Surprisingly, she was not upset when she realized Chung actually loved her best friend, San Fung and consented to their relationship while she continued to pine after Song Chi, who even left her when she was hurt by Princess Chi Ha. She never gave up and pursued Song Chi and I guess they finally ended up together.
Charmaine was just at average here in this series, as I still find her trying to find her right pitch when she speaks, which could come out pretty annoying (most) of the time.

Joyce Tang as Yeung Tan Fung/San Fung
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Fung was a filial daughter who helped her mother to cheat using the way of superstition in the town. When they were busted, Fung even went to the local brothel to earn a living to support her mother. She then took over the porridge stall left by Uncle Ming with her mother to continue the business. Starting as loggerheads with Chung, she then fell in love with him and was disappointed when Chung only had eyes for Yuk Chu. However, their time spent together soon changed Chung’s mind and they started their relationship which was disrupted by Chung’s sudden change in character. Joyce, was just being her usual self, naturally fitting into her role to be the noisy and irritating girl in town whom people like and yet dislike.

Ellesmere Choy as Chin Kit
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A cop who is afraid of blood, Kit was pressured to follow his father and elder brothers’ footsteps in pursuing a career in the law enforcement area. He fell in love with a well-educated prostitute and had to bridge the gaps to convince his parents in accepting their relationship; even though it meant angering them with his defiance. He slowly overcame his phobia of blood and became a firm and mature cop.

Pak Yu Mong
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A prostitute not by her own choice, she is a kind-hearted and compassionate person. She was also well-educated despite her surroundings. She fell in love with Chin Kit, but faced lots of obstacles and had to back off due to the objection of Kit’s parents and had to marry another man instead. However, she was unfortunate to lose her fiancé before marriage and was even suspected of murder. She was cleared of the charges and soon started her own welfare home for the orphans and the refugee children and cared for them. This is one of the kindest characters in the series, and a pitiful person as well.

Halina Tam as Yuen Yuk Po
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The half-sister of Yuk Chu, she was a materialistic and deceptive person. She appeared kind on the outside but had her ulterior motives for everything she had done for others. She cared only about reputation and wealth, and taking advantage of her own beauty, she used all means to get to her objective. Initially she wanted to enter the palace and take part in the royal consorts’ selection and after that failed, she married a rich restaurant owner who was twice her age. Her husband died, and she was found to be responsible for his death along with his younger brother, with whom she had an affair with and plotted the murder. Halina never disappoints in all performances and I just loved the way she acted so kind and gentle and then an evil smile in the next.

Comparing this sequel to the first part, this slightly lacked the humor and interesting homicide cases from the former. At the same time, I think the change of cast was disappointing at first but not devastating as they made a fresh start.
I noticed that TVB loved to do that and yet they liked to call it a sequel; now what is a sequel when you changed the whole cast? It is pretty much a whole new series by itself.
Another thing about this series is the rushed ending as towards the end, everything seems to be forwarded with speed. All of a sudden, Chung became an expert coroner while Yuk Chu and Song Chi’s relationship progressed rapidly. It was all too ridiculous; particularly the part where Chung became acquainted with Princess Chi Ha and even helped her?

I would still prefer the Part 1 to this one, but since I love watching case and mystery solving type of dramas, this was not too bad either.

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