Ghetto Justice <怒火街頭>
TVB Series 2011
Cast: Kevin Cheng, Myolie Wu, Sharon Chan, Sam Lee, Eddie Kwan, Mandy Wong, Jazz Lam, Joyce Tang, Shek Shau, and others.
Remarks : This is a watch-as-I-write-from-memory episodic thought (a combination of episode summaries, reviews & critical analysis episode per episode) and therefore please take note that this write-up will contain MAJOR SPOILERS for this particular episode and some creative license was used when recreating certain scenes or dialogue. Please refrain from revealing future SPOILERS in this episode.
The Prosecutor vs Ko Wing Leung
The case : The murder of Yam Yuen Yuen, stepsister of Ko Wing Leung
Counsel for the state : The prosecutor, No Name aka Nameless
Defense : Law Ba (Lead counsel), Kris Wong
Woahhhhhh!!!! An episode of revelation for Law Ba and yet felt like anti climax.
But first I forgot to mention some crucial points in this case in previous recaps. So I better add them in here, to avoid confusion.
The victim, died from a shard of glass stuck in her neck, step sister of the accused, Ko Wing Leung. Ko Wing Leung says he was arguing with her when out of anger he picked up I swear is a big glass vase (but this episode leans towards small water glass which is ridiculous since that piece of glass in her neck is HUGE), threw it to a faraway corner, smashed and he left. 10 minutes later he returned to see beautiful Yuen Yuen dead. He stepped on some water, slipped, knocked his head by the stairs and promptly fainted. Not long later he woke up, discovered blood all cleaned and he promptly called the police. And now the prosecution’s case is he was in love with Yuen Yuen. They may not be related by blood but by relationship it is considered incestuous and in some countries, illegal. Because Yuen Yuen was dating a man named Chan (seriously can’t remember his name but I think Howard was what he called himself so I shall stick with Howard) and ignored Ko, he was angry and killed her. It is a case of crime of passion so to speak. Defence says… ermmmm… well they can’t decide between blaming it on some unknown 3rd party to create doubt (Kris) or say it is an accident (Law Ba).
And at a time like this don’t you think there should be a cross over with Forensic Heroes? I mean imagine Maggie Cheung sweeps into the room and tell to Kris “You’re wrong” and used all sort of equipments to calculate the trajectory of the glass being smashed and finally flew to Yuen Yuen’s neck and whatever.
Anyway, recap continues.
Mrs Leung went with George to seek out that Howard. George asks Mrs Leung does she know how to question Howard and Mrs Leung said “Of course! Barrister Law taught me, briefly though..” and I can’t remember what Law Ba taught her but it was briefly and anyway to cut the long story short George gave Mrs Leung a bluetooth hearing piece which she can hide under her hair and George can guide her through it. And I wonder what made them think if this Howard is a violent person will not strangle Mrs Leung for asking too many questions?
Inside, she found Howard, rushed into the k-room with him and honestly told him she is Mrs Leung, neighbour friend of Ko Wing Leung at SSP. Howard was annoyed but Mrs Leung saw right through him and used his pain of losing Yuen Yuen and said she too would have felt the way he did if she lost her daughter so she knew how he felt and in the end he did reveal several things; for one he genuinely believed Ko killed Yuen Yuen, that Yuen Yuen was in love with him and not Ko since she was always so tender with him and stuck by him and ended up arguing with Ko whom he felt was a weirdo sicko not so manifico sort of step brother and he really loved Yuen Yuen in his own way. But then he stopped and ran away when Mrs Leung by George’s order accused him of lying of his alibi to the police, he ran to the male toilet, Mrs Leung followed him and barred him from taking a piss until he revealed why he lied about his alibi and all he said in the end was because he didn’t want to get disturbed by the police. But he did say he went to see Yuen Yuen and saw at the relevant time Mrs Yam taking out huge garbage bags filled with stuff and then he went away to join his friends at karaoke.
Mrs Leung rushed to George and told him this piece of news as George admired her tenacity whilst I scold George for being so dumb as to put her in potential danger. What if Howard is a violent dude?
Law Ba, Kris went to see Mrs Yam and Kris went straight to point about what Mrs Leung discovered. Mrs Leung shaken (but not stirred) narrated her version of events; may I say how come narration voice so emotional, continuation after flashback so calm? I mean at least be consistent.
“Yes I knew Yuen Yuen was in love with Leung. At first I thought they were just close as siblings and I was happy but then I realised she seemed especially tender towards him and as a woman I can recognise that sort of twinkle in the eye when you see the man you love. I was afraid, very afraid but Barrister Wong, I did not kill Yuen Yuen. I swore to myself when I married Ho Tin I will treat Yuen Yuen as my own” but Kris went on and on accusing her of lying, trying to protect her own happiness, sacrificing her son, etc as Mrs Leung tearfully said “When I came home, I saw Yuen Yuen on the floor, dead. And I saw Leung near her. I thought he killed her so.. so I cleaned up the place” and Kris questioned her motive for doing so as Mrs Leung said “I know what you are thinking Barrister Wong and I will say you are wrong. I did what I did because I didn’t want my son to go to jail. I did not kill Yuen Yuen, I loved her as my own. But if you feel that by accusing me of being the murdered could save my son, please Barrister Wong, please do it. Save my son” and Law Ba and Kris looked at Mrs Leung unable to say anything else.
In prison Ko was told of this theory and immediately he became very emotional as he said to Kris and Law Ba “Don’t you dare accuse my mother!! She didn’t do it and I will not let you use her as my defence! NEVER! Leave! Leave now!!” and he went back into lockup.
Meanwhile story back to Teng and Jing. Jing was being escorted by Chik and they were chatting when finally we get to see Chik’s very demanding girlfriend who did not believe him when he said Jing was under his protective custody and she warned him if he doesn’t do something to please her, they’re over and with Jing’s permission, he went away to buy her some expensive stuff. Anyway Jing walking alone and indeed, that mad woman was following her. Meanwhile Teng called Chik and knew Chik left Jing alone and scolded Chik and Chik thought maybe Jing might be so unlucky to be in danger and so he rushed back. Jing knew she was followed and shouted “SHOW YOU FACE!!” and the woman did show her face and she said “WHO ARE YOU?! WHAT DO YOU WANT!” and the woman revealed her face and Jing went “You?!” and the woman kept saying “Return my husband to me! Return my husband to me!”, clearly crazy and then she threw some liquid, clearly acid suddenly someone flew out and the liquid hit his back and that was Teng whilst Chik arrived and subdued that crazy woman. Teng was in massive pain and Jing quickly found a hose and sprayed water on Teng’s back but the water pressure was too strong and Teng was in even more pain and then came to me the most romantic scene in this series thus far; slow mo, music, and Jing held the hose up high and let the water fall gently onto Teng’s back who smiled at her appreciatively as she looked at him, worried.
Why romantic? Because it is! I mean sorta romantic, the idea of Teng’s sacrifice and Jing’s worries and the entire water hose and all…
At the hospital, Jing apologised to Teng but Teng said “No worries! It is just another scar, men with scar, more manly!” and Chik agreed and then Chik and Teng asked her what happened and Jing narrates, thank god without flashback since not everything has to have flashbacks…
“When I was working in office, I met a colleague, a decent guy and we fell in love. But his family found out my background and separated us and insisted he marries that woman. He was being indecisive; he couldn’t marry her and yet couldn’t leave me and so we ended up having a 3-party affair. But eventually the woman came to see me and… well… I left him (she didn’t explain what the woman did but probably something hideous). He married her and I moved to SSP. I heard the marriage was not a happy one, and he divorced her and so she thought I was pestering her ex husband and came to seek revenge against me” and on everyone’s mind, and I am sure your mind when I think Chik asked “But why did you move to SSP, of all places?” and she did not answer and Teng told him to stop asking.
YEAH Jing, WHY SSP?! God damnit! Tell me! TELL ME!!!!!
Then we have the essential storyline that is a setup for some major father-son fight because Mr and Mrs Ting saw Jing on their way to the hospital and Mr Ting due to pride refused to see Teng but gave Jing a bottle of cream for him to use. Mrs Ting liked Jing very much as Jing told Teng what Mr Ting gave her to give to him and Teng wondered why his father never bothered to come up to see him and gave cream instead when he is having medical attention anyway as Jing explained “You and your father is exactly alike; no one will not believe you’re both not related”
“No one will not believe you’re both not related” I know is a weird statement. But do you understand what I am trying to say?
“This cream represents your father’s good intentions. Whether it works or not, it doesn’t matter. It shows his concern for you” and Mrs Ting was very pleased to see Teng listening to Jing and also somewhere, Jing apologised and said it was her fault Teng got “acid” but Teng quickly explained it was the act of an unknown mad woman and Mrs Ting didn’t ask much, in fact she asked if Jing could take care of Teng on his behalf and Jing said “Sure” although she felt Mrs Ting have mistaken Jing’s affection for Teng as love. Well it will soon be. Imagine his father’s reaction when he finds out Jing is a prostitute. At this point I wonder why Kris never offered a job to Jing to legitimise her again? Or that Jing wants to earn more money for her French restaurant dream?
At the centre Kris and Law Ba have differences in opinion and Kris insisted on using Mrs Yam as the defence’s new strategy; to say she is the real killer, to create doubts. Did Kris believe Mrs Yam did it? I doubt it. She just wanted to win, to prove her worth. Suddenly the usually gentle happy go lucky Law Ba became very angry, raised his voice and said “Our client has already forbidden us from using this strategy. You will do well to heed our client’s instruction!!” Kris was shocked at his outburst.
Law Ba and Kris turned Forensic Heroes as Law Ba practised throwing glass onto the wall, hoping to hit the Yuen Yuen “balloon” figure at the exact same distance as in the real crime scene, none of the glass hit the balloon figure and all the while Kris said “Didn’t I said so? Come on, let’s stop with this nonsense. Use Mrs Yam, she is our best bet in securing Leung’s acquittal” but Law Ba was thinking on how the heck the glass hit Yuen Yuen.
My answer? Pure bad luck.
Kris and Law Ba were at the rooftop drinking and discussing strategy and Kris said “Please don’t tell me you’re insisting on using that accident strategy? Who will believe? Even I can’t believe more so jury and judge. We are his lawyers, we are to secure his acquittal by any means and the argument of accident will not help Leung at all!” as Law Ba countered “We must not win by using such despicable strategy” as Kris said “Despicable? How can that be? Leung will understand once he is acquitted. The police will not have enough evidence against Mrs Yam at all so in the end she will be ok. Who benefits the most? Leung. No one will get hurt at all!” and Law Ba turned serious “You think no one gets hurt. But in the end someone will always get hurt. We will not use such a strategy!” but Kris angrily said “Of all the people who has a right to say that to me, you don’t! Remember your own case of that incestuous brother? How you turned the tables on him and accused him and the accused got away? Remember? And you became a legend after that? That case 7 years ago? And now you question my strategy?!” and Law Ba became very serious as he said sadly “Remember in your mother’s shop where I told you in my heart I knew the accused was the real murderer? I did not lie to you. I knew but I wanted to win the case and I did all I could and created the doubt…” and in flashback we see Law Ba grilling the poor brother who may be a weirdo by taking pictures of his sister (and I think real sister not step sister) that he managed to make the young brother looked like some lusty incestous crazy brother who when he couldn’t rape his sister, killed her. The brother broke down crying, admitting he loved her but “Please judge, please jury, believe me, believe me I didn’t kill her” and Law Ba stood there with a self satisfied smile as he knew he created doubt.
Kris listened intently as Law Ba continued with flashback and dear lord, he looked like someone I could slap with his smirk!
“I became very famous after that. I soon forgot about that brother (can’t remember his name…Chan I believe so I will just use Chan), Chan. I never thought I created any harm at all but the truth is people get hurt by what you choose to do. One year later…”
He received a call from Philippines police asking if he knew Chan and it took him some time to remember and the police said “We found your card on him as well as a tape” and Law Ba smirked and said “Well what does he want?” and the police said “He is dead” and Law Ba was shocked to his core at this revelation. He traveled to Philippines and saw the police who gave him a video tape which he watched. It was Chan, recording this for Law Ba to see. As we see Law Ba listened and next thing went to see the site where the body of Chan was found, we hear the man’s narration, “Barrister Law, I have wanted to kill myself for a very long time but I figured why should I just die without letting you hear the words I have always wanted to say to you? After the case, everyone saw me as some lusty crazy brother. I could no longer live in HK, I was hounded everywhere I go and I ran, I ran to Philippines for some peace of mind. But I was never peaceful. The reason I took the pictures was because I wanted to preserve what is beautiful of my sister. Yes, I was in love with her. I know that to many is sick but I never acted on my love for her. I never felt any urge physically; I just wanted to love her from a distance. But that monster you defended, he killed her when he couldn’t rape her. He took her beautiful life away and you… you helped him to do that. If I knew the law would be twisted and the murderer gets to be free, I would have just killed him but I believed in justice, I placed my sister’s life on justice and in the end, you… you twisted it all and my sister never saw justice. Her life taken away and her murderer get to go free whilst I… I was hounded… because I loved her. Barrister Law, I want you to see for yourself, I want you to see the consequences of your actions…” and he hanged himself before the camera.
Law Ba saw the broken rope at the building and he dropped to his knees and cried very very hard. Note the dead guy’s clothes; he looked dirty, messy, torn clothes, he must have had a hell-ish time.
Law Ba continued …
“When I came back to HK, I became different. I became very angry, at the law, at justice, at myself, I acted rudely to the judge, I made myself a pariah amongst my peers and in the end I couldn’t stand it any longer, I left HK and I traveled for 7 years to find myself…” and Kris was listening very intently as he concluded “Yes you’re right. I have no right to lecture you on the strategy, but whatever you’re doing now was exactly what I was doing. I comforted myself by saying it was for my client’s own good, it was a legal technicality, it was a legal strategy but who was I cheating? Myself. Because the truth is what I did hurt those who matters. I knew Chan was a model student, he was active in charity, he was a good man who had a great future but I took it all away from him with my accusations in court. We can’t win this case on technicality. It will destroy Mrs Yam who has been an exemplary mother and wife. She did not wrong, so why must she suffer? It will also destroy Leung. No one will benefit and this will pervert justice. This isn’t what we should strive for as lawyers. We are to uphold the law, we must win by legitimate means, by reasonable and sound legal arguments and not some dirty tactics. If you and I can’t agree on the strategy, then my advice is you should quit” and so then Law Ba left and Kris looked at him, unable to say anything to counter his argument.
Yes the brother was creepy, yes he was in love with his own sister, but he wasn’t the killer. Maybe his love was pure, so what Law Ba did was to twist something pure and made it into something dirty, sinister. I felt the case to make Law Ba changed his perspective was a bit too… simple. Surely he would have encountered many such cases before, using various dirty tactics so I wasn’t convinced why he would be so emotional when the brother killed himself, as if this was his very first case. I thought the case to change his perspective should be even more sinister; and the one victim that can change a person’s perspective always involves a child. And no murder more sinister than that of an innocent child or that one which involves a serial killer. But TVB won’t go that route; it would be too heavy, too sinister but for me the perfect reason to change Law Ba. This case of an incestuous brother (of the heart) is to me not enough and finds his guilt as he kneeled and cried at the site a bit contrived. Maybe it is because I never got to see the victim’s face.
Oh and that’s it, the end for this episode. Next episode, don’t know what Mr Yam said that made Law Ba looked surprised and Leung said tearfully “Father….”. I think he must have spoken in his defence.
Very interesting episode, in the sense it reveals what was bothering Law Ba but I feel again the impact of a witness killing himself is not enough to change the perspective of a very self absorbed arrogant man such as Law Lik Ah. I mean the change was 360 degrees so it should have been more than just the suicide of a weirdo witness in love with his own sister. The story should have made it grittier; crueler to Law Ba’s conscience so as to make him change a total and absolute change and have his regret for the rest of his entire life.
But it is true; what sort of lawyer you choose to be defines your strategy and tactics you use. It is not a matter of delaying trials, etc but what Kris wanted to do was beyond that; it was shifting blame to another, a usual strategy but in Mrs Yam’s case, it will destroy The Yam family and Leung himself. What would Mr Yam think? It would plant a seed of doubt. It would have been disastrous on so many levels, something Kris didn’t see in her need to prove her worth. But how does one prove one’s worth and what sort of worth is it? What Law Ba said to Kris in that final scene was to me rather well written. Once you betray that conscience of yours and shifting the blame on others, however you justify your actions, it is meaningless. That is if you have a conscience. I doubt PK would care. So it shows like Kris, Law Ba was someone who wanted so much to prove himself, that he sacrificed his ethics and conscience, thinking no big deal, people survive but in the end his actions not only did not give justice to the dead but it caused the death of one innocent party. Would that be worth the value of your conscience, your ethics? I personally feel no. Law Ba is right. You must win on merit. Whilst there is nothing illegal with what Kris wanted to do, but it is in the end immoral when in your heart you know Mrs Yam isn’t the killer. Should an acquittal be gotten at all cost? If you’re a lawyer, what sort of lawyer will you be? I know lawyers are often the most cursed at profession, money grabbing, sharks, immoral, unethical but what breeds these “values”? The system itself. In a criminal trial, like Kris believes, no acquittal can be gotten on pure blameless situation. The jury wants someone to blame so as to give that acquittal. But in Yuen Yuen’s case, I do think it is an accident. It may not happen regularly but weirder things have happened. Of course where the hell is the forensics when you need them?
That is why I like the issues raised by Kris’ action and Law Ba’s past action even if I feel the impact is not enough.
As for performances, I maintain Kevin can’t cry misery and miserably. It felt forced, not much tears. Just imagine him as 8th prince at the sight of his dead wife’s body hanging off the floor and fire burning the building she is in, his anguish, his pain, his scream, his pitiful state, minus 50% of the angst and pain and that should have been a better representative of his pain in that abandoned shack scene. But he looks good smoking that cigar.
Myolie did well by not speaking and just let her eyes do the talking.
The rest no comment!
This Episodic Thoughts was written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com, and was originally posted at Point2e.com.