Review: Ghetto Justice (By Funn)
Ghetto Justice <怒火街頭>
Producer: Terry Tong Kei-Ming
Genre: Legal Drama
Cast of Characters
Kevin Cheng – L.A. Law (aka Law Ba)
Myolie Wu – Wong Si Fu/ Kris
Sam Lee – Ting Ka Fu,
Jazz Lam – George Mai
Joyce Tang – Mrs. Leung
Eddie Kwan – But Chik
Sharon Chan – Jing Jing
Funn’s Note: The following is a brief review based on the episodic thoughts written by myself and could be read here in Jaynestars.com or at point2e.com (http://ghettojustice.blogspot.com/). As always, spoilers alert.
Basically all my anticipation, all my excitement at my MOST anticipated series ever was right on point. I wasn’t disappointed. I can point out this is not the greatest series ever, nor does it have the best acting performances, but story wise, and the characters are all engaging enough to merit this to be one of the best of 2011 and will be a cult as well as a popular classic.
Ghetto Justice has the makings of a very watchable series with repeat value; a keeper except if you really want my honest unflinching opinion: Myolie Wu quite nearly derailed this series with her inconsistent performance. I find her a capable actress; I used to love her, but over time, she has degenerated into a rather formulaic actress. Not as formulaic as Jessica Hester Hsuan or Kenix Kwok where I can predict what they will do next but formulaic as in someone who acts with mathematical precision: 1 plus 1 is 2. Nothing exciting, nothing beyond that. Competent, but in the end an actress who acts. I do not find her immersed in the role of Wong Si Fu who is quite well written to begin with. I find her too obvious in her body language: anticipating, calculating, like she was expecting something and something as expected did happened. There is no fluidity, nothing natural. I find her court scenes the worst: there is no elegance in her portrayal. She did the arrogance parts well but in the end even as the arrogant Wong Si Fu, she was rather obvious. I knew she was acting. She didn’t become Wong Si Fu. She was Myolie through and through. She used to be able to capture the essence of a character and become that character but nowadays, I find her absolutely lacking. I expected more from her and so yes I was very disappointed with her. But amongst her many performances in 2011, this is considered her best and if she should win any awards, it should have been for this.
Kevin Cheng is another anomaly. He is generally a weak actor who has more charisma off camera than in front of the camera. He is a serious person and it shows on screen. I have never seen him livelier than in those production clips of Bu Bu Jing Xin, coming out of his shell. Why he succeeds in this series is partially that the character of Law Ba is well written. And he suits the casualness of Law Ba even if I never bought into his uncouth Law Ba. He was devilishly handsome as Law Lik Ah and supremely cute as Law Ba. But how was his acting you asked? Quite simply, competent. But a better actor would have made Law Ba into an even more memorable one. The truth is Kevin Cheng is just not that great an actor. I find him weakest in court room scenes where the drama is happening. He is best out of court room and being the cute, nosy guy. That sort of happy go lucky type. Luckily, Law Ba is rarely in court anyway so we see less of Kevin’s weakness. Why he is now so popular is in part due to this character, not the other way around. Any actor as Law Ba who is competent and cute enough would have scored a golden goose with this character. I can imagine quite a few in this role which would made Law Ba grittier but I do agree, none can come close to as handsome as Kevin and a certain embedded quality of gentleman in however uncouth Law Ba was.
Sam Lee was impressive in his straight talking way. He plays Teng so straightforward, nothing complicated and it takes a truly good actor to do just that. Some tends to inject too much into a character, some tends not to at all, but Sam Lee did it in the right doses. He is believable as the no nonsense righteous Teng, and was perhaps the most consistent actor in this series from ep 1 until the last. At times, I felt he was not enough; I felt like he didn’t display enough emotionally, but then I realised that is Sam Lee’s style of acting: no frills, he is what you see he is. Not quite the same as Myolie; whenever I see Kris, I see Myolie. Whenever I see Teng, I see Teng. That is the difference between these 2.
Jazz Lam impressed me the most because he was the most against type. I was so used to see him as uncouth characters, it took me a few episodes to see him as George, the ever gentleman and polite guy. After a few episodes, I was convinced Jazz was George. The way he spoke, his manner of speaking, everything was that of a gentleman. A definite against type sort of casting and one which reaped the most reward. I absolutely enjoyed his performance and the highlight of his performance was his trial case in Mrs. Leung’s assault case. He was convincing.
Eddie Kwan had so little scenes but you know, I enjoyed his every scene. His Butt Chik has little to do than to be the best friend next to the best friend but he did very well, and is very cute to watch. He has some of the best lines, apart from Kevin of course.
Of all the female performances, Joyce Tang was to me the best. Her best scenes were those involving her horrible husband: those tearful eyes, the frustration, and the pain. I never quite liked her in the past, never in those Armed Reaction series but I must admit, she matured as an actress in the role of Mrs. Leung even if her lines are the same lines repeated again and again. Sharon Chan also did well, even though I find her character exceedingly unreal.
Of all the guest performances, two stood out. One is Claire Yiu for her scary Mrs. Ma performance although more could have been done for that story. The other is Savio Tsang for his sympathetic Yam Ho Tin, the way he cried in the court, very convincing stuff. And of course the veteran Chan Wing Chun.
Of all the “nameless” actors, my heart is with Yeung Shui Lun for that Ko Wing Leung case because he was badass with his objections! Never seen such a persistent prosecutor who did not bang on the table; I thought he was pretty convincing as a prosecutor although Kwong Chor Fai looked more like a prosecutor than him.
Of all the cases, “The Prosecutor vs Tai Ng Ting’s” 2nd case was the most emotionally satisfying as the judge scolded Mrs. Leung’s husband. Many loved Ko Wing Leung’s case; I can understand why but for me the most real case, the most satisfying in terms of legal aspect as well as the moral question is Mrs. Ma’s case. That woman is scary and I wished more had been done to show that aspect. That case could have go on for 20 episodes frankly. There were many issues which could have been addressed.
For the sequel what I really want to see is more interesting out of this world cases AND at the same time one case which does not end in two episodes. I mean a court case can go on for some time, so I would love to see a case which goes on from ep 1 till the end and at the same time other smaller cases which ends in 2 episodes or 3 episodes. I have had it with personalized deaths, since things don’t have to be personal to be personal. You know what I mean?
All in all, Ghetto Justice is a highly enjoyable series that can be at times rather simplistic and casual, yet sometimes highly debatable and emotional. I certainly enjoyed it for what it is worth. I rather like the memorable ending. I mean which series will end with the hero ending up in jail? This one did and it was appropriate. I highly recommend this if you haven’t seen this!
This review was written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com. Please visit Funn’s blog.